The Rural Fire Service (RFS) said that its investigation revealed that Defence's training exercise on army land at Marrangaroo, conducted on Oct 16, indeed started the State Mine fire that burnt more than 46,000 hectares off Lithgow, along the northern edge of the Blue Mountains.
The Department of Defence had yet to release an official statement about RFS's confirmation. Hence, Blue Mountains' mayor, Mark Greenhill, was already expressing his impatience towards the department.
In an interview with ABC, one RFS spokesman emphasised that the Defence department should have practice due diligence and the utmost discretion given that the weather was remarkably humid when they conducted the exercise.
"The investigation has concluded the fire started as a result of exploding ordinances on the range on Wednesday. I would have thought the community of the Blue Mountains is owed something. I would have hoped on a day like that which was a dry day, a hot day, with the winds - the Australian military would have known it wasn't a good time to be igniting. The fire has caused great concern to my community, its done damage to my community and it just shouldn't have happened," the spokesman stated.
"It's the damage it does to the community and the stress it causes. There's the damage it does in terms of the risks taken by the firefighters, there's the damage it does in terms of the costs to the community of fighting the fire. And it's still going," the spokesman added.
On Oct 23, Wednesday, the Defence Department released a statement saying that it is aware of RFS' investigation on the military training exercise they conducted on Oct 16.
"Defence is aware the NSW Rural Fire Service is of the view the cause of the State Mine Fire near Lithgow was as a result of a Defence live ordnance exercise at Marangaroo Training Area. As Defence stated in a media release on Saturday 19 October 2013, Defence personnel were conducting an explosive ordnance training activity at Marangaroo on 16 October, the same day the State Mine Fire started.
"Defence continues to cooperate fully with NSW authorities investigating the State Mine Fire including NSW Police Force investigators who will prepare a report for the Coroner outlining the full circumstances surrounding the fire. Defence is also conducting an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding this explosive ordnance training activity," as stated in the statement.
Meanwhile, RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told media on Wednesday that he was not to judge whether the Defence Department was at fault or not. He said he would rather focus on the facts.
"I am simply focused on where did that fire start and how did it start. I don't care if it was someone lighting them, power lines or in this case an ordinance that was exploded - we made a commitment to investigate determine and advise once we knew. I don't think anybody is shying away from how this fire started."
"What we did do was an investigation to confirm the speculation that was around early on last Wednesday. Our investigation was simply a gathering of the facts, where did the fire start, how did it start - end of story."
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