Arson blamed for starting one of CQ's major bushfires
FIRE crews gallantly battled to contain bushfires burning around CQ but there are fears that their hard work is being sabotaged by an arsonist.
Three major bushfires - at The Caves, Barmaryee and Farnborough - were fought throughout the day yesterday before finally being brought under control.
The Farnborough fire was particularly tricky. Contained early in the day, it flared up again in the afternoon in the vicinity of Farnborough Rd and headed towards Woodwind Valley Rd.
This forced QFES to briefly elevate their warning level before they got it back under control.
Speaking from Townsville, where she is sitting in Queensland Parliament, Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said she was told by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services that the fire which had been burning for several days in the Farnborough area may have been deliberately lit.
"We will not let arsonists win. This behaviour is absolutely unacceptable as it puts lives, homes, schools and infrastructure at risk,” Mrs Lauga said.
Mrs Lauga said volunteer rural firefighters from The Caves, Tanby and Keppel Sands and other crews have been tirelessly fighting fires around the clock for days, risking their lives, and it has taken them away from their families and work.
"They shouldn't have to be out fighting this fire because it should never have been lit.
"The families at The Caves, Farnborough, Coowonga and Barmaryee have been stressed and anxious about these fires near their homes which come less than a year after the devastation of fires in similar areas.
"We will catch, charge and convict arsonists in our community. The devastation which can occur affects whole communities, and recovery is never quick or easy.”
Normally in charge of arson investigations, the Queensland Police said QFES was the lead agency in the current bushfire situation.
QFES is investigating the cause of the recent fires but was unable to confirm whether arson caused the Farnborough fire.
Ms Lauga said records showed that one in every two bushfires across Australia is deliberately lit, or starts under suspicious circumstances.
"This comes at a cost of $1.6 billion to the Australian public annually.”
She said the QFES Central Regional and the Rural Fire Service had several qualified bushfire investigators available to investigate the cause of a bushfire.
"These volunteers have a good knowledge of fire behaviour, and are committed to reducing the occurrences and impacts of bushfire arson in their area.”
Mrs Lauga said there were heavy penalties for people convicted of arson, with a maximum penalty of 14 years' imprisonment (Criminal Code Act 1899, section 46).
The deputy chairman of the Local Disaster Management Group, Cr Nigel Hutton, said the group was working very closely with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service in prevention, preparation, response and recovery from fires and other natural events which affect our community.
"The current conditions highlight the need for all of us to be vigilant,” Cr Hutton said.
"It's important for residents and property owners to remain cautious and observant of these conditions when carrying out yard works using machinery or lawn mowers, in an effort to manage their fire risks.”
He encouraged residents and property owners to continue to prepare for bushfire season by removing vegetation and keeping their lawns well mowed around their properties.
Rural Fire Service regional manager Brian Smith said information from the Bureau of Meteorology told us that our region could expect to experience another couple of months of dry conditions with increased minimum and maximum temperatures, which would result in increased fire danger.
"We're now in bushfire season and are well prepared for another busy year,” Mr Smith said.
"Fortunately, there still are some areas where hazard reduction burns can be safely carried out and we're encouraging people to take advantage of this opportunity and continue making an effort to manage fire risks on their properties.
"Anyone interested in obtaining a permit should contact their local Fire Warden.
"Their details can be found on the Rural Fire Service website or through their local RFS office.”
Cr Hutton said residents should take note of the fire danger warnings at council's online Emergency Management Dashboard disaster.livingstone.qld.gov.au or the Rural Fire Service website ruralfire.qld.gov.au.