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Mitchellshire Family Feels Vindicated with Fire Prevention Strategy

Here is one lesson learned from the deadly Victorian bushfires that hopefully local governments take heed of:

THEY were labelled law breakers, fined $50,000 and left emotionally and financially drained.

But seven years after the Sheahans bulldozed trees to make a fire break — an act that got them dragged before a magistrate and penalised — they feel vindicated. Their house is one of the few in Reedy Creek still standing.

The Sheahans’ 2004 court battle with the Mitchell Shire Council for illegally clearing trees to guard against fire, as well as their decision to stay at home and battle the weekend blaze, encapsulate two of the biggest issues arising from the bushfire tragedy.

Do Victoria’s native vegetation management policies need a major overhaul? And should families risk injury or death by staying home to fight the fire rather than fleeing?

Anger at government policies stopping residents from cutting down trees and clearing scrub to protect their properties is already apparent. “We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down,” Warwick Spooner told Nillumbik Mayor Bo Bendtsen at a meeting on Tuesday night.

Although Liam Sheahan’s 2002 decision to disregard planning laws and bulldoze 250 trees on his hilltop property hurt his family financially and emotionally, he believes it helped save them and their home on the weekend.

“The house is safe because we did all that,” he said as he pointed out his kitchen window to the clear ground where tall gum trees once cast a shadow on his house.

“We have got proof right here. We are the only house standing in a two-kilometre area.”  [The Age]

This seems like a common sense thing to do when living out in the bush, but when dealing with Greenies common sense means nothing.  So it will be interesting to see if these tragic bushfires will finally change fire prevention attitudes in Australia or not.

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