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‘I make no apologies’: CFA chief defends firefighters’ actions during Bunyip blaze

The CFA’s Chief Fire Officer has defended the actions of his firefighters’ across the past weekend, as multiple Gippsland residents claim they were left to fight the fires themselves.

Both Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight in Tonimbuk and Jinks Creek Winery owner Andrew Clarke said the CFA were either nowhere to be seen on the day, or not enough back-burning was done beforehand, despite numerous requests.

“I don’t know the specifics of Andrew Clarke, but I would encourage people to, where they can, to protect their own property,” CFA CEO Steve Warrington told Neil Mitchell.

“I don’t know his circumstances but we all need to take ownership of it.

“I make no apologies, our people want to get in and fight fires.

“Sometimes for safety reasons, falling trees or fire intensity, there’s possible fatal outcomes if they go down that road.”

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3AW received calls from multiple Nillumbik residents who claimed they cannot burn off or remove trees on their own properties because the local council requires each people have a permit.

Andrew Clarke called in and said he was extremely offended at Mr Warrington’s advice about protecting your own property.

“I lost everything and I’m still taking the blame at the feet of the state government for not doing enough burning off,” he said.

Senior Program Producer Heidi Murphy spent the morning checking annual reports on fuel reduction, and told Neil the burn offs in the past year were the smallest in the past five years.

“Over the entire state, .9 per cent of public land was burned off on 2017/18, the smallest burn off number we could find, in five years,” Heidi said.

“Two years ago almost 200,0000ha were burned, this year just 74,000ha were burned.”