KINGLAKE — The first warning came as an email the day before Black Saturday to all fire captains: extreme fire risk in Victoria and “crews should expect first attack to be ineffective.”
But a series of mishaps and computer errors delayed sending warnings to some communities once the fires were spotted, the commission investigating the disaster has heard.
The organizational mix-ups even left one Country Fire Authority (CFA) captain resorting to using Google Maps to plot the course of a raging fire that would sweep through Kinglake, the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission has been told.
Fire experts had compiled detailed maps early in the day that accurately predicted the path of the blaze, but they were never seen by the right people or used in issuing timely warnings to soon-to-be devastated communities.
Thirty-eight residents died north of Melbourne in the Kinglake fire — part of the 173 Black Saturday fatalities and 2000 destroyed homes in Australia’s most lethal bushfire.