Rocky on brink of disaster bushfire season

Rockhampton could face a disaster bushfire season after a spate of grassfires
Rockhampton could face a disaster bushfire season after a spate of grassfires Robyne Cuerel

ROCKHAMPTON is on the brink of a disaster fire season after it clocked up the second highest number of grassfires across regional Queensland in just eight weeks.

But residents can breathe a small sigh of relief after sophisticated mapping found there was a low number of properties in danger of being burned over the 2014-15 season.

A special APN Newsdesk investigation found there were 184 grassfires between August 1 and September 30 compared to Ipswich with 225, Sunshine Coast with 167, Toowoomba with 82 and Bundaberg with 75.

There are 381 Rockhampton properties in the very-high fire danger zone.

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has conducted nine burns over 3248ha in the Southern Great Barrier Reef area and 14 burns over more than 1117ha in the Capricornia region.

One of Queensland's top fire officers said the region was a tinderbox as grass and plants took hold.

Rural Fire Service Queensland Assistant Commissioner Neil Gallant said residents needed to prepare while the going was good.

"Certainly the vegetation level is high so there is the potential there but they have had some rain," Mr Gallant said.

"At this stage their activity is below average.

"They are still getting some fires but it's not raging fires.

"The fires are slower moving because of the moisture levels.

"Property owners ... need to get in now when there has been a little bit of rain around and conditions are still okay.

"Because once it really starts to dry out conditions will be very difficult to do controlled burns."

Emergency Services Minister Jack Dempsey said the Rural Fire Service Queensland used sophisticated mapping technology to identify the properties that faced high fire dangers.

"We want all Queensland families to remain safe this bushfire season and our mapping technology has allowed us to directly target properties at risk," Mr Dempsey said.

"They will be provided with a flyer and fridge magnet with information on what different bushfire warnings mean and how they should prepare for a bushfire.

"If you receive this information in the mail you will know that the RFSQ has identified your property as being at risk of being impacted by bushfire."

National Parks Minister Steve Dickson said QPWS had reduced fuel hazards over the past few months.

"Reducing fuel hazards is particularly important in managing the potential threat of fire to human life and property," he said.

"However, the burning program also has benefits for biodiversity and the environmental values of our parks and forests."


Grassfires by region from August 1 to September 30

Ipswich: 225

Rockhampton: 184

Sunshine Coast: 167

Toowoomba: 82

Bundaberg: 75

Fraser Coast: 74

Mackay: 70

Gladstone: 46

Gympie: 21

Warwick: 15

Total: 959

Topics:  emergency services fire qfes

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