It's hard to imagine greenies and animal lovers embracing the idea of deliberately setting fire to bush and destroying native plants and killing animals.
Especially when they have seen footage of koalas with singed fur and burned feet, of kangaroos fleeing with flames at their backs and have heard estimates that a million native animals may have died in the Australian bushfires.
But controlled burn-offs may be the only way to prevent, or at least minimise, devastating fires such as those seen in Victoria this past week, which have claimed such an unprecedented number of human lives and caused such despair and destruction.
Unlike New Zealand's mostly lush, green land, Australia is a dry, dusty continent with vast swathes of tinder-dry bushland and desert.
Arsonists and climate change are the relative newcomers there. Australia's fire history goes back millions of years - it has always been a major, and some say necessary, force in shaping the landscape.
The fossil record shows charcoal alongside eucalypts, the exploding, fire-prone gum trees of Australia, from as back as 80 million years ago.
As the analysis of the latest fires continues across the Tasman, commentators and experts have been pulling back from actually saying the words "told you so", though the blame game is well under way.
Amid consternation over the lack of warnings for people in towns that have been consumed by massive fires, there are those who condemn the green movement for objecting to the controlled burning of bush, and councils for forbidding locals to clear combustible trees and other "fire fuel" from around their properties.
In earlier times Aborigines used to regularly light fires to burn away fire fuel and allow plants to regenerate, and this helped control wildfire when it did break out.
When the early explorers came they saw spirals of smoke from such fires dotting the landscape.
Aborigines, it seemed, knew when to burn early in the fire season before fires could spread too widely.
When Europeans set up towns and farms, the practice was discouraged and now, when fire does ignite, often sparked by a lightning strike, the fire is more intense.
Last week's fires burned with incredible intensity and came on the back of a deadly combination of years of drought, very high temperatures, 120 km/hr winds and a record heatwave.
Dr Kevin Tolhurst, a Melbourne University senior lecturer in fire management said the heat expelled equalled about 500 atomic bombs landing on Hiroshima.
In the aftermath of such horrific tragedy - of whole towns burned to the ground and police believing arsonists lit at least some of the fires - "told you so" bluntness may seem inappropriate.
But in a country with a long history of death by fire, experts have for years been warning of worse fires to come.
More than 10 years ago, bushfire expert Phil Cheney wrote an article following fires which broke out in New South Wales in 1994. Fire, he said, was a very natural, very Australian phenomenon.
The former head of the CSIRO's (Australia's national science and industrial research agency) bushfire research unit explained that with better understanding of fire, better equipment and better communication by fire authorities, the average area of countryside burned each year would decrease.
The downside though, would be a public less prepared for fire, more reliant on external services when it came - and perhaps more prone to disasters in the future. It would be the urban/bushland interface where disaster would strike, he predicted.
This week Cheney vented, telling The Australian he was "totally frustrated" at the failure of governments to reduce the forest density despite the recommendations of repeated inquiries into fire deaths.
"It's unbelievable how far behind they are."
He told the Herald Sun how difficult it was to protect a home and life in tall forest. To save a home in the latest fires, residents would have needed to have cleared an area of about 30 to 40 metres of flammable material. If this had been carried out around homes and in adjacent forests there would have been an excellent chance of people staying and protecting themselves and their homes, he said.
In his earlier article, Cheney explained that in the past the perimeter of major cities was often well-defined with a substantial firebreak or fuel modified area separating the town from the rural vegetation.
Residential sites were substantially cleared of bush for development and there was little scope for regeneration of natural bush.
"There is now an increasing tendency for people on the outskirts of major cities and towns to purchase larger blocks of from one to 20ha and build their homes without substantial clearing of the native vegetation, or where this land had previously been pastoral land, regrowth and regeneration of the native vegetation has been encouraged."
In addition to living more intimately with the fuels, people living in these areas had little understanding of bushfires or fire behaviour.
He concluded that while improved building standards would help, unless people banded together to maintain low fuel levels within the urban/rural residential areas then fire would continue with increasing destruction.
Michael Buxton, an environment professor, told The Australian this week that governments had been in denial over the emergence of a dangerous cocktail of increased fire risk and higher populations on the periphery of many cities and regional centres.
"Increasing numbers of Australians are building houses on small rural lots in some of the most fire-prone land in the world."
More than 4000 rural dwellings had been built in six municipalities on the Melbourne fringe since 1998 and 52,000 rural lots remained undeveloped, he said.
As fires still burn and criticism mounts about the lack of an early warning system, calls are now being made for a national debate on forest management in the wake of scathing criticism of the green movement.
Academic David Packham, a bushfire expert formerly of the Bureau of Meteorology, told The Australian: "Elements of the [green] movement are behaving like eco-terrorists waging jihad against prescribed burning and fuel management."
The Nillumbik Shire Council, which covers some of the areas hit hardest by the bushfires, was warned five years ago that its policy of encouraging people to grow trees near their homes to give the appearance of forest would lead to disaster.
Bushfire expert Rod Incoll told the council in a 2003 report that it risked devastation if it went ahead with changes proposed by green groups that restricted the removal of vegetation.
He and Packham argued against planting trees around houses for aesthetic reasons with Packham saying: "The mix of fuel, unsafe roadsides and embedded houses, some with zero protection and no hope of survival, will all ensure that when a large fire impinges upon the area a major disaster will result."
Ironically, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, a ratepayer in Mitchell Shire Council was fined A$50,000 ($63,000) for clearing his own firebreak - yet his house in Reedy Creek was the only house left standing for 2km after last weekend's fires.
Sydney Morning Herald columnist Miranda Devine blamed green lobby groups for the fires: "It was the power of green ideology over Government to oppose attempts to reduce fuel hazards before a megafire erupts and which prevents landholders from clearing vegetation to protect themselves."
So many people need not have died so horribly, she wrote: "the warnings have been there for a decade".
MP Darren Chester, whose Gippsland electorate was under fire, told AAP there was a widely held view in his electorate there had been insufficient burning over a long period of time.
"This has been a long-standing failure of public land management and we are going to need that national debate in the months and years ahead."
The fires, dubbed Black Saturday, are not Australia's first terrible fires, nor even the first to be dubbed Black Saturday. The first major fire to be recorded was Black Thursday in 1851, also in Victoria. The online Romsey Australia Weather Site describes a year of exceptional heat and drought.
"Pastures had withered; creeks had become fissured clay-pans; water-holes had disappeared; sheep and cattle had perished in great numbers, and the sunburnt plains were strewn with their bleached skeletons; the very leaves upon the trees crackled in the heat, and appeared to be as inflammable as tinder."
As the summer advanced, the temperature became torrid, says the article, and on the morning of February 6, 1851, the air which blew down from the north resembled the breath of a furnace.
"A fierce wind arose, gathering strength and velocity from hour to hour, until about noon it blew with the violence of a tornado. By some inexplicable means it wrapped the whole country in a sheet of flame - fierce, awful, and irresistible."
Twelve people died along with a million sheep and thousands of cattle.
The pattern of tragedies and destruction has been repeated ever since, though never with so many lives lost as last week.
Many believe climate change is another contributor to the heightened danger level. Controversial Macquarie University scientist Tim Flannery thinks an extra degree or two of heat makes a massive difference to the ferocity of fire.
Writing in The Guardian, Victorian-born Flannery says he has watched for five decades as the state has changed. "The long, wet and cold winters that seemed so insufferable to me as a young boy wishing to play outside vanished decades ago, and for the past 12 years a new, drier climate has established itself."
Climate modelling had clearly established that the decline of southern Australia's winter rainfall was being caused by a build-up of greenhouse gas, much of it from the burning of coal, he said.
"Ironically, Victoria has the most polluting coal-fed power plant on Earth, while another of its coal plants was threatened by the fire. There's evidence that the stream of global pollution caused a step-change in climate following the huge El Nino event of 1998. Along with the dwindling rainfall has come a desiccation of the soil, and more extreme summer temperatures."
This month saw the zenith of a record-breaking heatwave with several days over 40C, and Melbourne recorded its hottest day ever, a suffocating 46.4C, with even higher temperatures occurring in rural Victoria.
This extreme coincided with exceptionally strong northerly winds, followed by an abrupt southerly change bringing cooler temperatures, but Flannery says it was the shift in wind direction that trapped so many.
Such conditions have occurred before, he says. In 1939 and 1983 they led to dangerous fires but this time the conditions were more extreme than ever and the 12-year drought meant plant tissues were almost bone dry.
"Despite narrowly missing the 1983 Victorian fires, and then losing a house to the 1994 Sydney bushfires, I had not previously appreciated the difference a degree or two of additional heat, and a dry soil, can make to the ferocity of a fire.
"This fire was quantatively different from anything seen before. Strategies that are sensible in less extreme conditions, such as staying to defend your home or fleeing in a car when you see flames, become fatal options under such oven-like circumstances.
"Indeed, there are few safe options in such conditions, except to flee at the first sign of smoke."
People who survived fire in some of the worst-hit areas have said official fire warnings over the radio were issued only minutes before fire struck, and, in the case of Kinglake and St Andrews, not until after fire had already ripped through.
Gary Hughes, senior writer for The Australian, who was trapped by fire in his St Andrews house, has described how despite taking all precautions to prepare for fire, the speed at which he first saw flames to when the fire descended was like a runaway train.
The fire which trapped residents of Marysville, virtually obliterating the town, is said to have travelled at more than 100km an hour.
Victorian premier John Brumby has said even the best warning systems in the world may not have helped.
The Australian Government's stance is to rebuild fire-razed townships "brick by brick." This might raise the question, is it responsible to allow people to go back to live with the hazard of fire?
Another bushfire expert, associate professor Jason Beringer from Monash University, told Weekend Review he thinks everyone who lives in or near the bush knows about the risk of fire and weighs it up. He lived in a place called Warrandyte, 30 kilometres from Melbourne central, on the urban/rural fringe.
"You move there because you want to have that connection with nature and, as nice as it can be, you always have in the back of your mind, 'is it going to swing around and bite you?"'
He suggests some might choose to live there because of the Australian bushman spirit, but others go there to retire, or because they are on low incomes and it's a cheaper place to buy.
Living in the bush was magical and he hopes to go back. "I guess it's sort of like being in a bit of a fairy forest. There's huge trees towering over the top of you.
It's quite awe-inspiring in a lot of ways, but you always have that threat of fire in the back of your mind and whenever we got a total fire ban day we would just move off the mountain because of the risk."
Some people were prepared to stay in those conditions and others weren't, Beringer says.
He thinks homes and towns should be rebuilt if people want to. They still own the land and have ties there. But he warns people living with fire risk against becoming complacent. In research he carried out about perceptions of bushfire, many who had moved to the bush had never experienced fire before.
"So there was no history, no residential memory of fire. These people that have been hit by fire and are willing to rebuild are obviously fully aware that it's going to happen because it's just happened to them."