Inquiry hears troops extinguished fires as bombs detonated

THE first day of an inquiry into how the ADF managed to spark a horrifying bushfire from its Marrangaroo training site included troops trying to extinguish fires with shovels as bombs detonated around them.

A Commission of Inquiry will now spend "several weeks" examining how the ADF started the fire on October 16 which would go on to devastate up to 56,000 hectares of land and burn for almost a month.

Following an opening statement from Lieutenant Colonel David Jordan, who is assisting the inquiry, Wing Commander Paul Muscat was called from the Defence Explosive Ordinance Training School to discuss the events of the day.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the inquiry heard demolition exercises took place on October 16, and supervisors detonated eight remaining explosives as they day wound up.

When a blaze was spotted after two of the explosions, a ute with a 500-litre water tank was dispatched to fight the fire.

The Inquiry heard the "Stryker Unit" hose could not reach the flames.

Before the Rural Fire Service arrived, Defence members tried beating the fire with shovels before bombs went off nearby, sending shrapnel past at least one of them.

Detonations are banned on the site when the fire risk hits "very high" - it was high on the day, but upgraded the day after.

The inquiry follows the Rural Fire Service's own investigation which found the fire began on the ADF land.


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