Emergency Services across the Bundaberg Region have appealed to the community to remain vigilant and take precautions this fire season, as heavy fuel loads and dry weather combine to create perfect conditions for fires.
Queensland Police Service Chief Inspector Grant Marcus said recent large fires in the region were cause for concern, including fires at Coonarr and Thabeban, which investigations have indicated may have been deliberately lit.
Earlier this month residents at Coonarr had to be evacuated Inspector Marcus said, with around 20 to 30 houses at risk.
“Fortunately, with the support of the air bombing assets, they were actually able to extinguish that fire to a level whereby they could get control of the fire and those residents were able to return back to their to their properties,” he said.
“The big concern that we do have is there are suggestions or indications that those fires may have actually been deliberately lit.
“We're calling on the community, members of the public, if you have any information at all that would assist us in identifying how these fires were ignited, could you please contact either Policelink or contact Crimestoppers and let us know what's going on.”
Queensland Fire Rescue Station Officer and Fire Investigator Trevor Farraway said it was disappointing that fires were being deliberately lit in the region.
He also added that, with the current dry conditions, the community should be aware of any possible activities that could accidently spark a fire.
“Be mindful when you are mowing and slashing, just have a have a bit of a walk through first and just make sure that there are no large rocks or star pickets or anything of that nature in the grass that the mower can strike,” he advised.
“With the dryness of the fuel and the dryness of the ground at the moment, it takes very little ignition energy to light these materials up and start to start a grassfire.
“And given the current wind conditions too, that will also turn a small fire into a large fire very quickly.”
Rural Fire Service volunteers have been on the frontline of recent fires, and RFS Brigade Training Support Officer Mark Russell noted that crews attended nine different fires in the Bundaberg area over one weekend.
“It has been a very busy period for the volunteers and with anyone that is starting fires, they're not just putting the community in that risk, but also putting the firefighters [at risk],” Mark said.
“We are getting short on volunteer staff as well, so we are pretty well strapped for the number we've got that are available to support the communities.”
Fire season began at the start of August, and according to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, the region has already seen increased fire activity.
The QFES advise all members of the community to be aware and be prepared by ensuring:
- Bushfire Survival Plans are in place.
- Properties are well prepared for the upcoming fire season.
- Always call 000 to report threatening or emergency situations.
The QFES website can help residents to put together a bushfire plan and provide useful information such as what to include in a bushfire evacuation kit, and how to stay up to date with current bushfire warnings.
Bundaberg Regional Council’s Disaster Dashboard also provides important information, warnings and updates about emergency situations.