A WIMMERA man has been fined after his camping trip led to an out of control grass fire.
Leslie Green, 61, appeared in Horsham Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, where he pleaded guilty to lighting a fire during a fire danger period.
The court heard that on January 13, Green was camping at Taylors Lake Recreation Reserve.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Michelle Wentworth said at 12.30am, Green arrived at the reserve and set up camp.
She said he then lit a campfire but the wind picked up and the fire got away from him.
The court heard that Green tried to extinguish the blaze himself but was unsuccessful.
The Country Fire Authority attended the scene and put out the fire.
Senior Constable Wentworth said the area was heavily grassed and full of pine trees, which made access to the fire difficult for emergency vehicles.
She said Green failed to build a proper place for the campfire, which should have had a three-metre clearing around it.
She said he also failed to have adequate water with him.
Green told police he had lit the fire so he could make a coffee.
He told the court that faulty medication had affected his mental judgement at the time.
“I certainly realise it was a mistake and I don’t want this to ever happen again,” he said.
Green told the court he had since bought a fire blanket that he now carried in his van.
“I commend the actions of the CFA for rescuing me from this situation,” he said.
Magistrate Mark Stratmann said fires in country areas could be devastating for communities.
“The reality is black and white,” he said.
“If a fire gets away it can be catastrophic – there can be loss of life, extensive fence damage, crop damage and loss of livestock.
“There was also the valuable use of CFA resources that could have been needed elsewhere.”
Mr Stratmann convicted Green on the charge and fined him $550.