Defence can confirm that the fire currently burning in the Orroral Valley in the Namadgi National Park was likely caused by a landing light from an Army MRH-90 helicopter, while the aircraft was on the ground.
The helicopter and crew were conducting aerial reconnaissance and ground clearance to enable access for emergency services personnel who were conducting bushfire prevention measures in the ACT.
It is deeply regrettable that our support operations have likely started this fire.
Defence has taken immediate action to reduce the risk of fires being started by helicopters, including not using certain aircraft lighting in extreme weather conditions.
Over the past few weeks, ADF aircraft have been an important part of fire prevention and control activities, in close working partnership with the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA).
We continue to work closely with the ESA to provide personnel and assets to help contain this bushfire.
Additional ADF helicopter assets have been deployed to search ahead of the fire, to ensure the area has been fully evacuated and people have observed the park’s closure.
The helicopters will conduct aerial reconnaissance of park infrastructure and assets ahead of the fire front.
ADF personnel have also supported ESA in door knocking residents in the Tharwa area to inform them about the fire danger, and the potential need to evacuate.
The ADF’s support to state and territory authorities will continue for as long as needed.