The stolen Toyota ute with NSW registration had failed to stop for police just two hours before the Pierces Creek fire began.
Roads and reserves were closed, residents’ houses door-knocked, evacuation plans put in place, and water bombers deployed over several days during the height of the blaze.
The growing number of stolen cars being dumped in the bush and burned to destroy forensic evidence is steadily building into a major problem for rural firefighters, emergency services commissioner Dominic Lane admitted.
More than 50 car fires were set alight across the ACT in December alone.
«It would make sense to take advantage of the new technology available to us to help with this issue,» Mr Lane said.
«With every community group I have met with so far, car fires are right at the top of their concerns. And this is a particular issue for people in those areas which border onto our bushland.
«So we are very keen to do something about it, and the government is, too.
«What’s the best way to deal with that — is it with technology, is it with resources? That’s what we don’t know yet. But these are the sorts of things that we can build into our strategic bushfire management plan.»
Canberra’s bushfire season this year is set to be the longest since the awful 2003 season which devastated the city’s western fringe, destroyed hundreds of homes and led to the deaths of four people.
The 2018-19 bushfire season has been extended through to the end of April, but this will be reviewed dependent on the weather coming in the weeks ahead.
Mr Lane has little doubt that longer bushfire seasons such as the current one will become the norm in the years ahead, and attributes the shift to climate change.
«You won’t find a single emergency services commissioner in Australia who doesn’t believe that weather patterns have changed significantly and the fire threat across the country has increased as a result,» he said.
«You only have to look at our situation here in the ACT; we had record summer temperatures with short, severe thunderstorms which carry the danger from lightning strikes, and our autumns are now much drier with a drier winter event also now quite likely.»
During April, the Emergency Services Agency will be holding community forums in Holt, Phillip, Tharwa and in the city, to give Canberra residents the opportunity to contribute to the fourth version of the territory’s bushfire plan. The forums will also allow residents to find out how fire authorities are managing growing risks, such as those posed by climate change.
More information on the consultations can be found on the emergency services website at esa.act.gov.au.
Peter Brewer is a Canberra Times reporter.