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Fire In The Wire - Tonight On Four Corners

NewsKevin Perry

Monday 28th October at 8.30pm on ABC1

For Australians bushfires have become part of life. In 2003 the Australian Capital Territory burned. In 2009 Victoria was ravaged. This year it’s New South Wales’ turn. Time after time, millions of hectares of bush and farmland are lost to fire. Homes are destroyed, lives are lost.

Each major bushfire is followed by a period of investigation and reflection. Arguments are made about fire fighting tactics, back-burning and tree lopping. Often the finger is pointed at arsonists. But does this obscure a more significant truth?

What if many of our worst fires are in fact very much like industrial accidents which could have been prevented? Why in many cases has the one chief cause of major fires been consistently left off the front page?

This week, Four Corners examines the evidence gathered over four decades documenting the causes of our biggest fires. The figures will shock you.

Despite tens of millions of dollars spent on research along with numerous inquiries, including a Royal Commission, one source of severe fires continues to ignite deadly blazes with tragic regularity.

We ask why have public officials disregarded the lessons of the past that may have prevented our most disastrous fires and we look at the factors holding back changes that might well protect the community in the future.

FIRE IN THE WIRE, reported by Geoff Thompson and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 28th October on ABC1 at 8.30 pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 29th October at 11.35 pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00 pm, at ABCiview ( and at