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Military helicopter causes massive bushfire in Canberra after crew stops for restroom break, inquest hears | Canberra

Crew of an Army helicopter that started the Canberra operation Devastating wildfires of 2020 They were landing for a bathroom break when they inadvertently ignited the monster’s flames.

An inquest began Monday at the ACT coroner’s court, with evidence from the commander of the helicopter that caused the fire.

An MRH-90 Taipan helicopter, codenamed ANGEL21, was scouting a remote helipad available to outside firefighting teams on January 27 when its searchlight ignited flames over Ororal Valley.

The inquest focuses on the 45 minutes it took the helicopter crew to inform ACT emergency services of the location of the fire.

A recording of the communications aboard the helicopter was played in court. This included the Army Major in charge asking if the crew could land to use the restroom.

“Are men allowed to land in some of these areas to go out and urinate?” he said.

They then landed at 1:38 pm at a remote heliport not included in the day’s reconnaissance plan.

The Major admitted he hadn’t turned off the searchlights before landing, but the court heard it could be as high as 550 degrees.

He denied even knowing the lights would get hot, and told the court he was only in the helicopter when it was on.

The in-flight tape recording continued, and one of the passengers (another soldier) was heard shouting, “Come on, come on, we made the fire, turn off the searchlights.”

The helicopter was stationary for about a minute.

I heard that one of the pilots decided to return to Japan. Canberra This indicates an urgency, but not an imminent threat to life.

Attorney Kylie Nomcheong SC said in court that there was regular communication between ANGEL21 and air traffic control during the 17-minute flight to the airport, but “everyone on board was unaware that they were on fire. I didn’t let anyone know that fact,” he added. fire or place of fire”.

She said one of the live questions in the investigation is whether or not the military ignited emergency services, when or if they informed them of the fire’s method and coordinates.

Burning for five weeks, the fire was declared out of control after 6:00 p.m. when more than 1,000 hectares burned, eventually spreading to 87,923 hectares across the ACT.

ACT Chief Coroner Lorraine Walker began the proceedings by reminding the court that it was a hearing to learn how similar situations could be handled more efficiently in the future.

“We are not here to crucify individuals or decisions made on the spot, or to undermine critical relationships between military and civilian authorities,” she said.

“We are here to explore how we can learn from it to enhance safety for all in the future.”

The investigation is expected to continue until Friday.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/14/army-helicopter-sparked-massive-canberra-bushfire-after-crew-stopped-for-toilet-break-inquest-hears Military helicopter causes massive bushfire in Canberra after crew stops for restroom break, inquest hears | Canberra

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