Canberra, April 16 (IANS) An inquiry into the devastating 2019-20 Australian bushfire season officially began on Thursday with an online ceremonial meeting.

The fires, which came to be known as “Black Summer”, left 33 people dead, over 3,000 homes destroyed as well as widespread devastation of local wildlife and habitat, reports Xinhua news agency.

Chair of the inquiry, retired defence force chief Mark Binskin, said that the purpose of the hearings was not to point fingers or apportion blame, but to deliver practical solutions to better handle disasters in the future.

“It’s important for me to state that we do not seek to point fingers or apportion blame to any jurisdiction, government or individual,” Binskin said.

“Rather, we are focused on national coordination and on looking for lessons for the future.”

The unprecedented scale of the fires, which encompassed millions of hectares over several months, left a significant impact on all Australians, especially the thousands of people who experienced them first hand.

As part of the inquiry both witnesses and experts will be called upon to deliver findings, ensuring that the lessons were not lost and that in the future authorities at all levels can better coordinate for the safety and benefit of the public.

“It provides a means through which the tragic loss of life and livelihoods that occurred during the 2019-20 bushfires may be avoided or at least minimized in the future, as our climate and our society changes,” Binskin said.

–IANS

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