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Case 142: The Churchill Fire

2020-04-18 | 🔗
Australia is no stranger to bushfires. But when Victorian Premier John Brumby warned residents that the weather conditions for February 7, 2009, could be “the worst day in the history of the state,” no one could have predicted the damage that lay ahead.  --- Episode narrated by the Anonymous Host Researched and written by Milly Raso Creative Director: Milly Raso For all credits and sources please visit casefilepodcast.com/case-142-the-churchill-fire
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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four suggested phone numbers for confidential support, placing the destroyer nights for this episode on Europe or on a website, in late January, two thousand nine southeast Australia was impacted by a police during heatwave and considered to be one of the most they most extreme in the region's history? It, was prolonged record breaking temperatures that raged nearly fifty degrees celsius in some locations. in the state of Victoria. This. Dream hate caused power, ravages that resulted in the termination of public transport services spend traffic. Values lodge public venue used in the city of noble, were evacuated, and the annual australian, open tennis tournament was also impacted with several outdoor matches cancelled,
Continuous champion, Serena Williams remarked that it was so hot on court that she felt she was having an out of body experience, who were stranded inside lives that had ceased operating wooden suppose we witnessed self igniting and to push for as blazed across the sky Thousands of citizens require medical treatment, region, voting in a seventy percent increase in emergency calls to ambulance Victoria, while the death bright increased by forty five percent. by the following month of February, the hatred, had caused the victorian economy, an estimated one hundred million dollars on on eight February six said Premier, John Brown, being caution to victorians about the extreme weather conditions forecast for the next day and Nancy
That said, I February seven, two thousand nine would be the worst day in the history of this state. Temperatures will once again set to soar above the need for these and a gale was wind was predicted decades, long drought had left the much of the australian landscape incredibly dry and Tori, are alone had missed the equivalent of two years worth of average rainfall premier be encouraged. Paypal to cancel plans avoid travelling and stay at home warning it's just as bad day as you can imagine, and on top of that, the state is just kinda dry. People need to exercise real common sense. Tomorrow, Victoria had a long disastrous history of wildfires entered the weather,
conditions. Were predicted to be worse than those that preceded the devastating ash Wednesday and black fraud, I push fires in nineteen. Eighty four Hurry and nineteen thirty nine respectively the forest fire Danger index, which combined climate data, such as temperature wing spade and humidity in two who painted a result that February seven two thousand nine that exceed the algorithms highest category of extreme. Thus, a new car Agree was created, titled catastrophic, Total fire band was declared and hunt it's a fire fighting personnel were deployed state wine As anticipated, the weather on February, seven was sweltering with many new old time. Maximums raged mail
recorded its hottest ever temperature at forty six point: six degrees Celsius throughout Victoria Bush fires. No, I did by high winds that blanketed the state in the smoke their intensity grew try these National Broadcasting the ABC, abandoned scheduled programming to report solely on the hazardous situation. Meanwhile Residents in rural and regional fire prone areas debated whether they should stay and defend their homes or evacuated and risk losing everything
Located in a rural region of gifts, land in victorious Aced is the Latro Valley. then land district, withdrawing major urban areas, Maui more well interaction and six smaller townships, including Churchill, formerly known as Hazel would Churchill was purpose built to accommodate workers involved in the construction and maintenance of the Hazel Water Power station. in nineteen, sixty five The town was re named in posthumous owner of former british Prime Minister, so Winston Churchill grew into a computer suburb for those working in neighbouring areas located one hundred and sixty kilometers southeast of Melvin Churchill Wages are commercial centre for several thousand locals with one
at parkland separating residential areas from industrial estates dent Trade plantations and national park and aid judges of farmland frame. The township, which is home to the cynic like Thailand and a golden tail on nine locally, is the big cigar after Winston Churchill's trademark. Smoking habit at one Thirty, two p m: on Sunday February, seven, two thousand nine triple zero emergency services received the coal regarding a wild fire. Just outside Churchill the blaze was full kilometers. South based of town need the intersection of Glenn Donald Road and jealous outlet to unsealed stretches of winding road. Why they cut through the rule out skirts It had emerged from the bottom of a natural basin. The Bennets Craig Catchment,
consisted of blue gum, eucalyptus and pine plantations. Saran by hazardous surface fuels, just shrubs. Why a grass and blackberry bushes three minutes after the coal, a pilot flying a fire fighting aircraft, ten kilometers from Churchill sought at a column of dock smoke, hundreds of feet high rising from the fires, location, Within ten minutes, the flames had troubled roughly one kilometer and were in the vicinity of forests, managed by Timber Company Hancock Victorian plantations. play surveillance plains, which were the singing the entirety of the lottery Valley that day with diverted to Churchill to carry out reconnaissance work. This being in its early stages. The fires behaviour was noted as extreme, but the Tom First responders arrived the blaze,
spread rapidly and was burning on both sides of jealousy sat, lad. Spot eyes began, igniting a rounded straining resources and impacting efforts to tackle the central inferno directly require were made for more tankers and dare support. However, the intense hate was causing water to evaporate before it even hit the ground focused and shifted to warning surrounding communities of the urgent thread. Roadblocks were established the round the fire as emergency services, personnel visited nearby residences to raise the alarm, but two p m. The fire had been raging for almost half an hour and remained out of control. Despite the arrival of additional firefighting crews, continued to move in a south hastily direction through the broad valley of Bennets. Craig
Air crew observed the fire cresting to reach along jeer, Align North Road and by the fifteen minute mark. It had trouble, about seven km. More spot fires were reported in to buy three p dot m. The blaze had burned through a pond plantation in to damage the communications tower, It's to protect assets continued as emergency relief centres were established in nearby townships, at three twenty p m. The fire had destroyed its first times dead at the intersection of Thomson and to jeer or lying north roads by force. Don't pay em, it was approaching the slopes of man Tessie, ten kilometers Jus, South EAST of Churchill and spot to the mountains, east side,
as emergency crews tackled they surrounding spot fires, the apex of being phone. I rage downwards early on that day, astronomy The bureau of media Ology had predicted this of the wind of change. That would he give slant between six and eight p m. Shortly before four o clock, their prediction was amended to the window with five thirty and seven p m the planing office responsible for the Churchill fire unaware of the amendment, told the incident management team to expected, at the mid point of seven, When they change arrived in our earlier than anticipated sent seventy kilometer and our guests through the region that suddenly shifted the fire in a north hastily direction. The
wins, pose a significant threat to aircraft and force them to land as a fifteen kilometers long, uncontrolled flank of fire developed that ray from the origin. Point me: Churchill, through to the side of man tat. He as it progressed forward. running Dubray rains rained down and ignore the surrounding vegetation. Almost instantly was accompanied by an east splitting rush of white noise described by MRS, as the sand of immense pressure lucky that of jet engine. following this hurricane, like wind change, the fire was, its most dangerous, threatening multiple townships, As well as the one wrong state forest residents working fervently to defend their,
times when now, blinded by an all encompassing blackness composed of smoke and dash all of a sudden, the inbound firestorm appeared through the dark, like a sunrise Churchill resident Gregg, we stated on you, the fire front was coming. You could hear it, you could smell it. You could feel that coming out of the valley, the flame You were right there and, where the height of the trees and that again, three hundred feet high Ploss there What big swirling bore taxes just pigs killing masses of flames that would burst and explode out of the tree tops shortly up to six p m three. Would it Ankara's belonging to volunteer fire service. The country fire authority were involved in a series of burn. I've is wherein
a cruise were forced to take showed where possible, as the fire entrapped them the burn over here with quiet, great ferocity firefighter Graham Chesterton, recalled but could see. Em start the full. It was locked that work Coming from everywhere, they became very smokey, and everything started to burn rapidly. There were spot fires on the ground, all around me and the trees started burning at that stage. Age. I guessed I had about ten to fifteen seconds until I would have to make a move. Within no seconds the conditions deteriorated so rapidly that are realised that wasn't side too late. The truck at that time. I did not know where all my crew members were. I made the decision to make him may day Cole. I said something along the lines of we had
plainly surrounded by fire, the boon, lasted an estimated ten minutes fire fighting crews elsewhere, listen to their colleagues frantically broadcast may die, calls Iver Radio, but where able to approach the same due to the level of danger. All they could do was respond. There is now thing we can do for you incredibly none of the fire fighters chord in the burn, I've lost their lives. The file finally slowed at eight p m and by the fund one day of Sunday February. I it was mostly brought to a halt old, I burn continue in heavily feud areas the church. Your fire, named after its point of origin, was not visually listed as under control. Until eleven days later, on February nineteen,
More than six hundred firefighting personnel battled the blaze supported by one hundred and five vehicles and appliances in total it had burnt more than twenty five thousand eight hundred and sixty one heck days and Drawing to one hundred and forty five times elsewhere Hundred separate Bush fires had devastated the victorian landscape, with the most destroy even deadly bang. The king, like into Marysville fires in the states, nor faced collectively the boys had released eighty thousand kilowatts of hate, the equivalent of five hundred atomic bombs One hundred and seventy three people had perished, and four hundred and fourteen were left injured. More than two thousand times, and ten thousand kilometers of fence line had been raised estimated one million animals were killed Betty.
where seven two thousand nine became deadliest Bush via catastrophe in victorious history. And was henceforth referred to as on Saturday, Fifty eight year old offered friend dough and his wife Alain lived on old, collect me road in Calais me with their youngest son mark, who was disabled, and in their care apple had made no plans for what I would do with a bush. Fire ever threatened their livelihoods as the possibility. Never really crossed their minds on February, so in two thousand and nine a neighbour, a loaded, the friend days to smoke rising in the direction of Churchill? The file was nearly fifteen kilometers away into the couple with certain would not reach their property as a precaution they collected upon
Polly, piping and spray nozzle and connected them to the damn near their house. As fire drew near a lane took. son mark to her parents house for safety Alfred remained behind and was soon joined by his eldest son. Twenty Seven year olds, God who had arrived to help defend his parents, property at fifty nine p M Scott sent his partner attacks, informing her that, although they didn't know exactly how close the file was, it was very close and they were in trouble. He then found his mother to tell her that the hay shed at the bottom of the party was on fire and requested. She called the fire brigade. Less than half an hour later Scott, find a friend who, later a cold here.
Funded, terrified and dinner raised voice. He said get some fucking funny proxy before the coal dropped. Their at six thirty p m a couple. Fuck you waiting the area drove past the offered friend doze vehicle, which was located about one and a half kilometers vermes property and burning on the opposite side of the road Alfred's body, was lighter found in his car sixty meters away resting in bed Bush land off. The road was Scott Friend days, vehicle he's room, aids were recovered. Fourteen made is from his car. It appeared. The father and son had made a last minute decision to evacuate in separate vehicles before Scott headed did the fly on foot when lane friend I returned time awake after the fires she broke down
discovering her house was still standing husband and son had succeeded in defending the property. the thirteen years bill Shirley Gibson had lived in a single story: Red Cedar Home one Glenn, Donald Road in Haifa, would south. built in the nineteen Seventys the hell. sat on a large sloping. Bush block, surrounded by woodland, decouple kept their property innate condition, ensuring the lawn was trimmed and the gathering was clear shortly before or I am on February, seven. Two thousand nine. After the church, she'll fire arose within two kilometers of their home bill. And surely elected to leave the property as they packed their car. One Their sons, forty nine year old column, driver
to the house. Was intent on protecting his parents, home and Refused his father's requests to leave. Colin, was soon joined by his younger brother forty seven year out David. Men were experienced in fighting fires. David had been a member of the country, fire authority for twenty five years and was considered Very very competent when it came to fire fighting while color had been a lieutenant in the Queensland Fire Service, after their parents had left the brothers spent the afternoon hosing down the house, flooding that gathers with water dampening cool since, on the veranda hanging, It tells over the windows and filling everything they could with the war on terror. And family members, as they worked telling them that they were safe. The Why was not close by into that?
would leave shortly in
to his mother David reassured her to have safe mom, don't worry about it and told her. He loved her before hanging up at twelve thirty p M David spoke over the phone with a police officer stationed at a nearby roadblock, who warned him to expect a very strong winds that could produce very dangerous conditions. David contacted his son had around six p m to report that the fire had passed, although he also mentioned quite something about a wind change. It arrived fifteen minutes later early the following morning, Colin and David Gibsons bodies were found in their parents destroyed house. The only possible escape route had been the two hundred Meda driveway to the main road, which should the time of their deaths had led directly into the fire.
Fifty one year old, Island Jacobs, Cindy's fifty year old was mere ass, lived in a break Vinnie House with a car. did I and Ruth. Situated in a densely trade area of corn along their remote slugged property, backed onto a Craig and was described by a neighbour, is the most beautiful little valley you could ever live in and a mere ass, had been married for thirty years and had two sons, one of whom was overseas. Their fire plan was to stay and defend their property, which was equipped within Pendant Pella, several sources of water and fire fighting equipment. They work appeared to take shelter in a workshop garage positioned beneath their house, and to wait for the fire front to pause then. Urge to extinguish any remaining specifies the workshop?
was access the virus romola door and had a concrete base, since ceiling with double brick. Walls and large window at one end covered in still shot up on be wary. Seven, two thousand non islands, mere ass were joined by their son Luke and his friend Nathan, Charles, both aged twenty one day, along with several of their friends spent the afternoon. Preparing the Jacobs Home for the fire, The fire front was just over the hill, but based on the blaze migration. That was only expected to skim the edge of the property. Nevertheless, ass. Discussions were held in relation to staying or evacuating Alan Jacobs, told the others that the choice was theirs but the garage would be a safe haven, but those who remained behind by six p m almost everyone had left. Bull was leaving.
nice in Charles was the only person who decided to stay behind with Alan mirrors into Luke Jacobs. The wind aged soon after and its six forty four p m Nathan placed it or to triple zero. Explaining that the house was on fire and that they were trapped, he then find his father and send it as though he was saying goodbye, but the coal dropped out since Father then received the text from his son that red dad on dead. I love you. The boy destroyed. The Jacobs, carport cause, bowed and most the entire house, the these are Vallon Mere Luke tenderly send Nathan Charles were found the following day inside the garage which remain and intact
and scientists concluded with the door closed tightly. and the window, shouted ventilation would be limited in the circumstances with carbon monoxide and dioxide levels increasing and oxygen. conceived in the fire installation could be a critical issue. All for victims had asphyxiated. Telling me resident Jenny lived in a singer, Story half with her husband, Glenn and there too young children, although their property was boarded by Bush land. It was clear education and trees. Jenny and declines. Fire plan was to fight off any floating, embers with their basic equipment and to leave situation, worsened.
in the early afternoon of February. Seven two thousand nine Jenny dropped. Her Children offered her in wars and returned home. to her husband. She hoped her mother fifty one year out and net lay, would stay in the comfort of her home ass. She had Nor do I mean disease that limited her ability to move quickly. However, at four point, thirty p m a net and her husband drug me arrived at Jenny's, has to help defend the property. They were aware of the smoke and strong winds, but the list of and dash meant. There was no indication that should be seriously concerned for their safety. Just before six p M Rodney received a call from his brother, who warned him at the anticipated wind change. Neither me nor Glenn understood the implications of this with Glenn latest stating.
I had no idea that the buyer front would be heading directly for us when the wind of change broadly and I both It would horseshoe around us by six. Thirty p M the pair wife had gone out, and the countryside was enveloped by appointing red glow, prompting Jenny, Glenn Rodney and the net to discuss their options. When members started swirling around the property at seven p m, the group decided to a vacuum and Glenn left in separate vehicles with a rotten And a net following behind. In there you within minutes Cynthia was raining down around them like a red hot bullets,. As Rodney Drive. He was confronted, what he described as a massive, fast furious Ross fire as the fight
front rose over the hill and begin, raining thick black droplets onto his vehicles, windscreen surrounded fire and unable to say clearly, Rodney tried to back the youth into a dam. The when it appeared to store he's panicked, wife decided to make a run for the house. Laid them opened the passenger side door and to let down and media falling into the fire running rushed to help but was unable to save her. Despite missing his wife's death and having sustained cv burns took forty percent of these body. Rodney went onto battle several spot fires and managed. To save his daughter S, house
in September, two thousand seven Martin Schulz and his wife, Rachel relocated from Queensland to victory on with their young sun and settled into a house on factory, road and colleague knee, but two thousand nine Martin and Rachel had separated but maintained an amicable relationship. Martin worked in a local brick factory and continued living at the colleague new property. With these pet dogs. Kelly Martin was home alone on February seven two thousand non when his father in law called to inform him about the fire underway in Churchill, had around three p m that day a neighbor visited to warn Martin of the fires, proximity, estimating that it was only about ten kilometers away. Martin was unaware of the danger. Although some smoke was visible, there was mostly obscured by a large reach behind his house, and there was no Oda in the air. His father in law find a second time at about four p m, telling him that the fire was moving in his direction and to prepare to leave my responded that the fire was not there yet, but he was ready to go and now a later he spoke to his Ex wife Rachel asking if she wanted him to pack anything in that car before he left the property. She pressed him to leave immediately, but Martin assured her that it wasn't that bad is the file. Wasn't there yet. Martin then spoke to his sister on the phone to encourage her brother to acting chewed of Lee. Despite the country fire authorities website, deeming the area safe, she called back a short time later to warn him about the anticipated wind change. Quote. Martin told me if the wind came from the south, he was screwed and that he was going to leave had six forty p M Martin find his ex was once more to tell her that he was in the car Rachel record. I could hear the wind and the incredible rule so it must have hit by then I could. He feared and hurried nurse in his voice changed
drafted Martin to go to her father's house. Twenty minutes later, a distress to Martin out peace, father in law and stated there's a tree across the road and dawn on fire. Was the last anyone heard from Martin Schulz and he was registered as a missing person. The following day, almost away collider mountains body along with that of his dog, was banned. He's burnt out car in a crate bed three kilometres from his home, Gertrude and Airy. The Martin emigrated to Australia from Germany in nineteen fifty six bringing with them There are two children before her The third in Melbourne in nineteen. Seventy three: the mountains purchase the dilapidated all the dairy farm on dear Align North Road Indira lying there
Said about fixing up its whether board and cement shake high. They added Would grain extension and filled the surrounding garden with ornamental trays and shrubs the pebbles on the farm for thirty years, recently settled down. When Gertrude Health declined lady G's out she suffered from a condition. High blood pressure, and had trouble with her heaps, Eric was aware of the fire danger forecast for February seven two thousand non and spent the morning making final preparations to defend these high. At two p m A neighbor believe fifteen kilometers down the road phoned reboot zero to report that the fire was about a kilometer away from he's property and heading towards the mountains police officers were tasked with conducting a welfare check on the elderly couple. However,
their notes did not specify a name or address so was not carried out as a true made large Eric note. The gray and yellow smoke in the air, which was soon accompanied by flames, he grabbed his common to suit the exterior of their house. But this option hose had already melted burn branches sticks and leaves rained down onto the roof while being sought. The harm hate them
smoke, radiated down the whole way into the kitchen, realising there was no hope to defend their high Eric and guided Gertrude towards a real door that led out through the back porch when he opened the door by air and media lay shoddy inside. So he quickly slander. Shop later explaining, I don't know how long we waited, but the house was burning and everything around us was burning after a minute or two, I tried the door again and the flames were totally gone.
When the blaze subsided Eric led to Gertrude outside into the fence line where she expressed the need to rest and settled down by a fence posed Eric placed the wet. Tell I bit his wife's head intended back to the house to extinguish several specifies upon returning to Gertrude minutes later. He found her lying on the ground. Has, though she was sleeping Eric held her hand only to realise she had passed away. It was lighted determined that Gertrude Martin had died as a result of a heart attack
as the parents know. Two days are ever the same care dot com. You can find trusted and flexible sitters to help manage your family's ever changing schedule. Care dot com can even help you out with housekeepers dogwalkers senior caregivers and more so you can find care for all you, love and one hundred percent of caregivers who use care dot. Com have been background, checked with care check a key first step and hiring confidently to get the help you need to make it all work sign up now and find a great sitter. It carried out com. Victoria polices. Arson squad began looking into the church your fire dubbing therein Instigation operation, Winston, first call to emergency services. On Saturday February, seven indicated that the fire had started at around one thirty p m with witness what's by its origin to somewhere near and Donald Road and jealousy outlet around.
Kilometers shout based of Churchill's town centre, local, wild fire investigate off from the Department of Sustainability and Environment Ross. Bridging headings and the same the day after the blaze first Burst, Saunders had reported to parallel fires burning in the area before they connected into one catastrophic inferno. Region, was able to the light exactly where the two fires had met and authorised. directing the location for an hour. He had calculi did the origin point four age. I had ignored it. A hundred made us apart on either side of jealous outlet, the started amongst the dry brush and bracken within the surrounding plantation decision, and had arisen from a pile of discarded junk that included all ties, mattresses and faulty bicycles, none of which were capable of self igniting.
All scenarios, including The boys had been caused by car exhaust camp, buys broken glass, lightning, strikes or discarded. Cigarettes were explored and ultimately rejected. the possibility that members from one fire had started? The other was also ruled out as well blazes arose in quick succession and typically takes upwards of fifty in twenty minutes by such spreading to occur. Additionally try and bought from the first fire would have had to travel backwoods then sideways against strong winds to start. The second ass ended active with certain the Churchill fire had been deliberately lit. Although no evidence of any improvise toward delayed, incendiary devices or flammable liquids was uncovered that the origin point. One fire expert claimed that
thing is simple as a lit match. Your cigarette lotta would be enough to cause the wildfire given the draw condition of the forest coupled with the hot windy, whether Hank Victorian plantations. The team become need that Ireland, the forest, had better the area from the grand and skies throughout February seven and hadn't report anything suspicious, as the state was on high alert that day, police had also been covertly surviving. Nine firebugs in the region, however, none had been at the scene of the crime. although not an exact science ass falling did offer investigators some insight into the type of person capable of carrying out such an act, waiting till one prominent model, the fight setting intervention programmes, the mentally disordered offenders arsonists. Typically male unemployed or
struggling in the workforce from disadvantaged backgrounds, exam poor social skills and have a family Three march with abuse and door addiction. Deliberately lit. Fires are more common in semi rural Bush, land regions such as those within the low tribe Valley, where public transport was poor incomes were low youth unemployment. was high and dry abuse and neglect occurred at a higher rate per capita. You could have ranged from an act of revenge to a targeted attack a random opportunity. as only one percent of arsenic, derive cord the odds of solving the crime was stacked against operation Winston in response to Victoria police confirming that they were investigating the work of an awesome asked astronomy as Prime Minister Kevin ROD, remarked.
What do you say about anyone like that? What do you say, but I know there's no words to describe it other than that, mass murder. While Larsson Squad Detective senior constable pull burden, shall I was re examining the crime saying now whether What farm house on the top of a hill to the east courtiers attention? He It is the homestead which was just up the road The property where brothers, column and David Gibson had lost their lives, lay in Ferguson And aged in his early twenties answer the door Leon along with members of his immediate and extended family, had managed this their house, although the land guy around it was completely destroyed layer
told detective, abode and cello that he was defending an area of his property by himself on the evening of Black Saturday, when a man suddenly emerged from the fire and smoke he was aged in his light duties with a stocky, build and had a quiet cod boyish face. The man was dressed in camouflage print, clothing and heavy work dates and was carrying a small team Colored Terry, a dog called Brucie, lay in presume to is trying to escape the fire into. They fled into the house, together with the means, calmly in the living room lion, ordered him to call triple zero before Turning outside the search for his father once The fire front had passed the men to lay him and his family homes down the area. He introduced himself as Brendan and said he.
Being in the area of helping a friend and former colleague who lived close by name to pay their towns and Brendan explained, that he's car had broken down along the road and expressed concern that if it was destroyed Insurers would only pay him five hundred dollars, not enough money to replace it. Brandon was described as vague and only spoke when spoken to at around ten p m, a fire, rock arrived at the Ferguson House and the family asked the to take Brendan High, as he made feel uneasy. Liam gave detective burden cello. What plastic bag that contained a camouflage, print canvas hat the Brendan had left behind He also recall saying a stationary sky, Blue Hoddan said Dan Uncle and Donald rode on February seven. It.
part that are not angle on the grassy verge. Is data driver had pulled over suddenly and abandoned it blames. Mother had also observed the car when she evacuated the area at two p m. And half an hour after the fire had been lit, another local had witnessed the howled and driving up and down the street in recent times and produce belongs to one of these night is on February. Seven pay too report has positively on Donald Road as me, frantically tried to start its engine Spot the man's efforts the Hoddan had been left behind and was burnt by the fire with it upholstery windows and ties incinerated according to one witness. The cars are not returned to the area the day after the blazed with a tow truck, but was
advised to leave the vehicle as it was part of a crime saying, hey retorted, don't Not that shit. I came down to help a knight with the fires I was told to connollys towing into Pennell bathing in more well, just that the ten kilometers north of Churchill winded. active visited the panel babies to ask if they had recovered any vehicles from the five zone opponents said they had only picked up a one. He showed the Tec a burnt out, colourless, show which had one, Spain, is God Blue nineteen? Seventy four heights J, Hoddan they could barely decipher the damaged license plate which read SL, W three, eight seven
the receipt had been made to a man named Brendan saga, Lock, who lived, don't choke Grove in Churchill, wended did you check the breadth and soak Alex details, they learned that he was thirty nine years old and didn't have a criminal record. They decided to Spain paid a tans end? The frantic soccer lock had allegedly visited on black Saturday that had previously worked with Sokolov at Monash. Universities keeps land campus weather both employed is gardeners On February, seven patron Why? For evacuating by car, when they noticed soccer sucker, looks abandoned Alden told an ongoing Donald Road. Despots go up telling others that he's reason for being in the area. With the visit Paita he's vehicle was parked some dinner. and from the towns property and face the wife from it.
According to paid up soccer lock, had opposed. reputation at that former workplace where he was known to lie and make up stories to impress others. He was and seated childish and would scare colleagues by leaping out of bushes or beans, pokes snakes with sticks and brag. Tying cat styles together here, repeatedly stared and granted at one female staff member until eventually resigned because she couldn't stand it any longer. In moments of anger, Soccer Lockwood threat to kill others into their families, but smile does he did so confusing these targets as to whether he was joking or not. Those who complain about he's, behaviour often found their cause damage. Tools, meeting soccer lock was never caught committing criminal lacks. Presumably because he knew the location of the campuses, security, cameras and avoided.
Accordingly soccer locked away, did the university for eighteen years, Fill in mid two thousand six, he was finally terminated following a dispute with these supervisor. Supervisor had put together a list of staff grievances regarding Sokolov, which included him bowing colleagues, home and later informing them watch here I know where you live. challenging the boyfriend of a female staff member to a Jew, lift the God on he's ride on Mullah to shall at the on colleagues and liberally running over Gulf balls, causing them to shoot out at last stand is so The locks neighbors were also unnerved by his behaviour. They would hear him tinkering in his backyard shed, while he listened to the children's television, shows Bob. The builder and Thomas the tank engine. One woman noticed him leering over her fence, prompting
to hang up drapes to prevent him from seeing it windows. The day That black Saturday soccer lock left a voice mouth the chance, and in which stated Paita its Brendan I tried to get up safe, you're all right broke down in Glenn Donald Road and its torched now tried to get hold of you, but you were busy I'll catch With you lied to me, have you are safe and well. Peter, also informed detectives that shortly before too yeah I'm on the day of the fire he sought talk a lot of getting into a car belonging to a local woman named Natalie Turner. Natalie had been with her parents that day when she noticed smoke and decided to flayed the area with her partner in children at around one. Forty, five, a m they drove along Glenn, Donald Road, where
Blue Hoddan, said Dan slightly obscured their way days demand stood alongside it with his small dog Nedda and her partner offered him a lift taking it. all the way to his home in Churchill the drive he remarked, I hope car doesn't burn. He repeated the comment they dropped him off before quickly, adding oh and Austin nobody gets hurt. Investigators obtained records from triple zero emergency services, which are listed. telephone numbers and addresses of individuals who called them on black Saturday. It was discovered that the cool flights to triple zero when the Churchill fire commenced came from afar belonging to Brendan Soccer, lock on Thursday February twelve five days after the fire
police arrived at Brendan Soccer locks, modest brick, the bungalow in Churchill, only too Discover no one was home, of course, to soccer locks mobile phone revealed he was yet delivering newspapers. I saw job he had taken to supplement his income. investigators caught up to him and placed him under arrest for arson. He responded I didn't like any files The search of soccer locks house uncovered matches in a bathroom, a lotta in his bedroom, the red straight for his bird car into business card from Connollys telling and Pennell bathing in more well. He's back yard was flooded with junk food John and electrical equipment? That was scattered around patches of scorched earth. Investing ideas set out the camera for a video interview in the property and discarded
soccer locked inside the pudding, captured the stocky man with short greying hair in an outfit consisting of a sweatshirt shorts and along socks, in very shades of green. When asked and firm, his name age and date of birth soccer lock respond in a slow, disjointed manner, while keeping his hands in his pockets and shifting awkwardly in place. He replied Brendan before pausing and pulling at base. He then stated Thirty something, or rather he is The question what your mom's name with mom the detectives were perplexed by someone blocks abrupt change in demeanor up until this he had spoken to them fluently and coherently, better sooner The camera was on him. He acted obtuse circle,
Pointed to a police officer outside and asked who the ban man was and continues to respond to questions in indecipherable and child. Like manna, he said, Did he couldn't remember what he had been arrested for and when it was make to him that it was in relation to the Churchill fire specifically ass in causing death soccer, lock, replied, probably. interviewing detective and head of the arts and squad Senior sergeant Adam Shoe Smith, asked This all sound, familiar or you're not sure sought the lock responded. I dont really comprehend things too much before I'll, say yes just to make you happy at this point, the interview was suspended. Having only lasted six minutes
investigators spoke with Brendan Soccer locks, father, who review Daddy son had an acquired brain injury from birth saga. Lock then escorted to the more well police station to await assessment from a specialist during the ride his domain a change to yet again, and he was back to banish and lucid, while those are displaying a hint of arrogance He made snored comments to the driver, such as two hands on the wheel for beginners and asked are you nervous may when he was placed inside an interview, room and to tape. Recorder was switched on. Sulphur locks manner of speaking once again became vague and simple. He
Had he couldn't remember his middle name and he would rainbow incoherently to avoid answering direct questions. Detectives believed Sokolov was playing up, he's impairment and took a bright from interviewing When suddenly, he announced, I want you start talking soccer lock described his actions on Saturday February, seven, two thousand, not explaining how it spent the morning shopping. With these father before the pair head, back to Churchill. Shortly after having lunch soccer lock was arriving he's, holding which having issues in the hate and was on the cost of stalling. Before dropping his father off at home soccer lock, told him he planned to drive back into the hills. Two way. his friend paid at Tansy Anti, he returned time briefly to change into some heavy work boots. Then vis.
at a nearby petrol station to purchase a packet of pull more swings. Grain cigarettes. As he drive along Glenn Donald Road towards paid his place soccer, lock cigarette with a light do too the uneven surface of the road he's car vibrated. Causing an end off from the cigarette to full onto the car floor saga lock picked it up with a napkin which he then tossed out the window He climbed the embers caused the napkin to ignite quote. I noticed there was and upon it, and a cool triple zero and are just try to get away as quick as possible. Just panicked. Soccer locks. Car happened to break down further along Glenn Donald Road, leaving him. ended when
I find it arrived at the same soon after they noticed soccer lock, whom that did not recognise staring at the growing Blake. With these dog in his arms. Do you Let him too late the area, but he continued to watch the flames show. Lay off the days Nedda later, And her partner poured out and offered saga locker lift back into town. upon returning home soccer, lock climate To the roof and watched the fire distance for awhile had around four thirty p m. He walked. back towards Glenn Donald Road, where he had left his car here boy did the main roads which were blocked off by police instead moving through burning paddocks, where He was spotted by emergency responders, who would let stunned by the sword
a man walking his dog amidst the fire. Sokolov claims, t visited paid attends ends time to check on him but said his friend wasn't there, This assertion was denied. By paid out, he told police that he was indeed home at the time protecting he's livestock soccer locker then crossed the road to the since property, where he remained for several hours. Sokolow could tell the time do that he hadn't been Albert asleep promptly since the fire and accepted that it was his fault that eleven people died. The interview concluded with someone Lock being asked appeared told anyone what he had done. He replied no cause day p who would go former Lynch thing and chop a person up, so I kept quiet.
An examination of saga locks, home computer revealed dozens of photographs of firefighters battling the places on black Saturday. It was also Discovered that he had sent an anonymous email to crime stop is three days after the incident, which read saw a department of sustainability and environment firefighter light a fire on the edge of the road. As all went past on scared. The bad man will get me. he described the arsonists does, driving a watchful will draw the utility vehicle and Bartley Lighting the fire on the edge of Glenn, don't old road investigators believed this report was an attempt to throw them off by identifying a false us back so the lock appeared uneasy when informed that he's computer was being examined and was soon
scabbard that he had evidence of child abuse material on the device. These confession, Sokolov, reverted to his charge. Locked behaviour and speech patent that not a medical officer died knows him with the developmental disorder autism, which is characterized by restrictive entering did you behaviour into difficulties with, Surely interaction and communication. autism is thought to cover a broad spectrum with some. Like nosed individuals experiencing severe in payments while others function, at a high level with less debilitating symptoms, soccer locked also found to have a borderline intellectual disability. Brandon soccer locks spent the remainder of the night in police custody, the vote One day he was escorted to jealous outlet for filmed filled. Interview,
standing amongst the charred forest, Sokolov fidgeted and averted his gaze while again discuss being how he had started. The buyer, by throwing a napkin containing a cigarette and buy out these car window detectives were aware that the Churchill fire emerged from two blazes that had been laid in quick succession along jealousy outlet. Yet Sokolov maintained that he had only started one and it was on intentional quote. I didn't mean any of this to happen. A head no intention of this all to happen now. I have to put up with it. For the rest of my life- and it makes he sighed police was, ethical of soccer locks story when they spoke with other members The church, your community, they discover, that many viewed soccer lock as a cunning and disturbed individual circular
had also harboured fascination with by off from a young age, as attain here dragged about lighting a fire in the toilet of a local milk Bob and another in a park. pop a lock, lighter joined the country Fire authority before became mandatory for volunteers to undergo police checks with one family friend telling police he loved the fire trucks The power of being a hero, however, he was dismissed within the year then too, ass prevented from re joining due to suspicions that he was deliberately setting fires according to the book, the arsonists a mind on fire, but crime without Chloe who bought essay. I thank captain put that sucker Lock had admitted to starting fires, so he could go out on the truck until help them.
He's after the Churchill fire soccer locked gave several explanations to others as to why he was in the vicinity of the blaze at the time it started, including that he was attending a wedding visiting a friend and going to get a chisel back from an acquaintance. In one conversation he described tell a cigarette burning down to a view. Source would provide enough time for an arsonist to flee. Questions were raised about saga locks. Mental capacity, a former colleague, described him as the most cunning person he had ever met stating. I am aware that he may have a mental impairment of sorts, though he uses this to his own advantage. Brenton is a smart, a person than what people give him credit for
This character reservation was also supported by saga locks brother, who share his opinion with police, paid a towns and claimed hey once said to soccer lock. You don't seem too dumb to me, prompting silk aloft, to explain how he was occasionally assessed and would slobber drivel and talking nonsense, so that he's assesses would believe he qualified for disability benefits. Soccer lock, travelled through the tribe Valley, collecting scrap metal which had, according to one local, given him a real geographical talent for navigating the region's back streets, fire access, roads and the tracks he burned. The excess junkie accumulated in he's back yard with neighbours stating that sucker locked in bonfires had been getting progressively bigger. Although no one witnessed Brendan Saka, Lock, allotting that Churchill fire on Black Saturday, there were approximately one hundred and sixty witnesses who had information regarding these movements on the day
Senor Constable pull burden. Cello later stated, every one of them delivered a very, very strong circumstantial case. Brendan soccer lock was charged with ten counts of arson, causing death more than one hundred and eighty cancer recklessly causing serious injury and damage and charges related to the possession of child abuse material. He was not charged with the death of eighty year old Gertrude Martin, as it was difficult to prove whether her heart attack was caused by a pre existing health condition. All was a direct result of the fire. Despite the charges, soccer lock maintained his story that he never intended to start the Churchill fire and that it was an accident
due to the level of public anger over the case so locks. The fence barrister ought to suppress his identity. A magistrate agreed to ban the publication of saga locks, photograph and address to protect him and he's been my firm retribution that ruled that so The locks name be made public quiet. Those suspected of vigilantes them would not be prevented. from behaving in an abhorrent way, simply by suppressing his name as the magistrate predicted vigilantes were run, deterred by the prospect of a suppression order and were quick to name and shame. A website title kill Brendan suck Lock was soon established, while members of a facebook page called Brendan, Sokolov Master burn in Hell, demanded that he be burned at the stake.
Another online group of ten thousand dollars to whomever killed the alleged arsonists. for his own safety. Soccer lock, was re located to a cell in Melbourne, assessment, prison and ask them. And carrying him pulled out of town, enraged, locals, pounded on the doors and Yoda abuse. prior to soccer locks, trial, the prosecution with the one hundred and eighty class charges that pertained to recklessly causing serious injury and damage in order to focus, sclusively on the ass in charge, is that you say, dropped the charge relating to the child abuse material as it couldn't be ascertained. but the soccer lock had intentionally sought the images or, if ass, he climbed the dog, had been stored on his computer as cookies, while he braves the legal adult pornography. So.
In Australia, the child You have asked and causing death carried a maximum penalty of twenty five years in prison, soccer lock, pleaded not guilty and finally appeared in the victims. Reign Supreme Court. Almost three years after the Churchill fire areas. Issues but debated throughout the trial, including ok, locks, mental state, whether fire was accidental or deliberate and Tipp it wasn't. Can't? You know whether had intended to kill. Motive was also considered, including whether soccer locks, poor treatment and reputation had compelled him to take revenge against his community if he had hoped to somehow control the situation and become a hero it also speculated whether he had falsely confessed to the crime, because he couldn't comprehend
the gravity of the situation? Defence barrister, Jane Dixon argued that the cause of the fire was unclear and question how offer the examination of the crime scene was even possible, given that the area had been disturbed by fire helicopter bombing, bulldozing raking the water housing the day prior shade. Dear I see that an unidentified motorcyclist witnessed in the area when the blaze started might have been responsible for the Koran but also put forth, possibility that it wasn't ass at all. So, Looks troublesome Holden said Dan was proposed as a possible cause with materials engineered testifying for the defense. The damages the car exhaust pop- might have sparked the blaze Dixon. Called soccer, lock an easy target due to him
What is in Sokolov condition meant he experienced difficulties with social interaction, verbal comprehension Intellectual reasoning, as a child. He was severely bullied when he's pay and collected him from the school bus. He was sometimes covered in spirit and faces he could barely read or write and his parents with the drew him from Schooling year eleven after years of tormented, struggling to make friends and learning at a slower pace, soccer recollections of his employment that Monash University varied to those of his colleagues scrubbing himself as their punching back. The defence argued here. Condition had also led him to believe that he had something to do with the blaze and explain why he kept changing his story. They alleged that police had used soccer lock as a scapegoat,
to his reputation around town as a quite odd sort of fellow in the store is the as him as a firebug were all he say. Dixon asserted that her clients called a triple zero to report. The incident was not the action of a deliberate arsonist and that he had been prosecuted by circumstantial evidence stating, This was no contrived the web of lies and safe. He might have been pretty careless. might have even been negligent clumsy coordinated stupid. Certainly not in terms of autism, some rain man character. Frankly, Brendan Saka, lock not be capable of calculating his way out of a paper bag unless he had a map
a senior forensic psychologist to examine to suck a lock, was unable to ascertain emotive and was of the opinion that he did not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of pyromaniac conclude, In that way, Mr Soccer lock. It does have several characteristics associated with fire, setters there are a number of important criteria lacking the abusive substances, general criminal, offending Andy Anti sociology. If it It deliberately light the fires. It is the luck that he's motivation was eight. There expressive as a result of these social inadequacy, or for mental to achieve a particular extrinsic gaol. The prosecution argued that sucker locks condition, did not impact he's mental understanding and that he had become person of interest just days after the fire, based on witness testimony alone.
They portrayed soccer lock as calculating and cunning individual. grubbing how his demeanor changed, depending on the circumstances, his bearing stories as to why he was at the scene of the crime and his attempt to blame us fire fighter in an anonymous tip off to crime. Stop is the day after that fire circular had made a claim on his insurance policy in relation to he's dirty out car, an act that indicated he had a high level of functioning. Multiple fight, Our experts also gave evidence as to the difficulty and a low probability that a cigarette embark crushed in a napkin then tossed out a car Window could feel a Bush fire. They concluded that, via could have only been lit in such a manner if the napkin was already burning when it was thrown out of the car, prosecutor re else then told the court, when the
accused man, arrives at tat intersection. There is no fire. No one. Suggested to be present when he leaves its ablaze all causes, save but deliberate ignition of this fire have been eliminated. There is only therefore one irresistible conclusion to draw from the totality of material, and that is the accused, and set those fires at two points. When the twenty one victim impact statements were Redding Court soccer lucky, you want Don't move by the stories he was hearing Grant Jacobs shared his turn, that being the sole remaining member of his family, stating I have been left without my mother mirrors, left without
my father Rollin, and my brother Luke, who was my best friend. It was done by someone's, deliberate until intentioned actions. The world has become a very lonely place by just one. My family which I know can never have never grants art Rhonda. Spoke of the absolute annihilation of a family and described crawling through the Paul Abash that was once her brothers home for two and a half days, hoping to find anything that survived quiet. I wait in the deepest places, if my soul running He laid them recalled he's attempts to save his wife and net who was consumed the fire in front of his eyes. He described feeling ass though he were standing in the middle of a volcano and smelling
His own flesh, Bernie, quite by half there's into what is that we have done this option, have done that and my wife would still be alive. Couldn't go out in the sun any more as it caused these birds gas to each painfully Laughlin friend, was six years old when the fire took the lot of these father, Scott and grandfather. Alfred he's he missed them every day and that sucker lock too away his love and family It is tribute to the victims was played in court, which soccer lock watched briefly before Turning to his pens and paper that he had been using two scribble with throughout the trial.
After four days of deliberation, the jury found Brendan Sokolov guilty of ten cancer vast and causing death. Just this poor coglan tone soccer luck. I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt for the purposes of sentencing that intentionally lit the fire intending to set fire to eucalyptus plantations I am also satisfied that you lit the fire, had two distinct places at point the intersection of jealousy outlet and Glenda right. The event was terrifying parole. Involved in the fires were directly or otherwise death from natural disaster would be bad enough, but their suffering is sick. difficult, evidently grace from knowing that the oil which caused the death was deliberately lit by the victims these were, and are life changing advance and no sense.
Instead, I impose Kenyan anyway compensate for their loss, but it does. bring to an end to one part of the process Justice Coughlan accepted that Sucker Lock had not set out to kill anyone. He reference the defendants, training with the country fire authority which provided him with the knowledge that he's actions came with certain risks, including damage and death. Taking into account he's impaired mental functioning, which judge called one believed reduced he's moral culpability, Brendan Saka Lock was sentenced to seventeen. Yes and to nine months in jail with a non per a period of fourteen years The guilty verdict made soccer lock the states worst mass killer in March, two thousand and thirteen, the director of public prosecutions, appealed the length of sorrow
sentence on the basis that it was manifestly inadequate and sword and increased to twenty four to twenty six years. They were concerned that offered little deterrent toward bay arsonists, especially those in bad whore, challenging circumstances. In their unanimous ruling rejecting the application, the court of appeals that, while the gravity of the offence was an important sentencing, factor soccer locks, disability had debate considered, quote how long does not trade, an offender with an intellectual disability or other mental impairment same way as an offender who does not have such a disability. The moral culpability of a person who intentionally lots of fire on a day of extreme weather conditions and door in the face of a total fire ban. Appreciated
There is a strong possibility that the fire will spread is great than the moral culpability of a person who does not understand the magnitude of that risk. intensive principles required the court to consider the effect which his or her mental condition had on he's Her moral, culpability, the view the sentences imposed after weighing days back. This fellow have been the reasonable exercise of the judges. Discretion a royal commission, was held into the black Saturday fires which aim to examine all aspects of the government's Bush via strategy then prior to Brendan Saga, locks, trial and therefore did not addressed his involvement in the Churchill fire. Instead, focusing
The experiences and reactions of emergency services, personnel and victims before during and did the blaze commission acknowledged numerous examples of courage, initiative and professionalism that increase The community and firefighters safety pretty did houses and property and support that local crews, who would by far the fires and king their own homes and businesses Heller they determined that the incident management team for the church, your fire, demonstrated shortcomings in management and planning that contributed to the lack of organization and affected there. Currency of those working on the ground they think Who did the planning office is inaccurate, reporting of the time of the severe winter change? We occurred in our earlier than predicted,
the commission acknowledged that the efforts of individuals such as Syria, volunteer and captain of the Willing South Fire Brigade Craig, would throughout black, said it. I wouldn't his crew focused on suppression and dasset protection in response to the Churchill fire at times placing themselves at great risk. They helped it. The far away from Tarag and staff and protected Lloyd, Yang Power Station while also safely evacuating a number of people from colleague me during the day What's your own farm came under threat and was left unprotected in her speech? to the choice he faced would remarked. My task was far greater than my own farm this he said with something he kept in the back of his mind, so he could instead,
concentrate on what you need to do for the betterment of the larger and broader community. The commission noted missed wood and his crew provide just one example of the carriage and generosity of men and women who followed the fires. On February, seven, two thousand and nine spot. The timely warning from victorian Premier, John Brown be the day prior the black Saturday. Many torreons were not prepared for the ferocity of the fires and the subsidy A trauma was significant, according to a report by the Herald son in the body, Following that catastrophic day, there was a rise in suicides, namely violence reports, alcohol and drug abuse, and dig Its behaviour, such as gambling amongst the Bush fire survivors,
replacement. Houses were left in various stages of construction, as resident had run out of money to say their job to completion and increased fire having had added to their cost. Every year on February, seven memorials held throughout Victoria to commemorate the lives lost in the black satin. I fires in Churchill, locals That's a pay, their respects to the families and friends of Alfred and Scott friend, Dough Cullen and David Gibson. Alan mere I spent a week, Jacobs Nathan, Charles late them. Martin Schulz and true Martin during one such ceremony. Twelve months after the blaze, the chaplain of Monash University in gives Land Father, Hugh Brown, told the crew of morning. It could
destroy our memories. The cod destroy our gratitude for the help we received from so many and it, destroy our spirit which are strangely bedded and bruised, but never quenched, Two thousand and nine was a bloody awful ye, but we as the song says, will survive. We went to ever forget the past, but we won't leave their radar because because we know that out of ashes, new life grows.
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-16.