ON ALERT: Detective Inspector Darrin Shadlow, QFRS acting inspector Tony Stroud and Mt Morgan station officer David Sealy.
ON ALERT: Detective Inspector Darrin Shadlow, QFRS acting inspector Tony Stroud and Mt Morgan station officer David Sealy. Rokcmfire

Authorities say fire pests must be stopped

IF YOU see something, or know something, say something.

It's a simple message around a complex problem as the number of suspicious fires in Central Queensland leapt to 50 in the past 12 months.

Authorities say it will take a whole of community response to fight wildfires and catch arsonists.

Acting inspector of the Rural Fire Service in Rockhampton, Tony Stroud said he had no knowledge as to why there was such a significant increase in suspicious fires, but information from the public was critical.

"Wildfire investigators need to consider the whole picture," he said.

"If you see a fire, take a photo… keep an eye out for any vehicles or people loitering in the area, take down number plates and call 000. The area around Mt Morgan is very hilly and getting information early on a general location can be critical."

Insp Stroud urged the public to take photos and take note - for example the fire was 200m from a certain point at 3pm.

Wildfire investigators are able pin point the source of a fire back to a two square metre area before a forensic search on hands and knees to locate the exact origin.

Mt Morgan station officer, David Sealy was recently appointed a wildfire investigator with more than 20 years local knowledge.

He said around 60% of wildfires in that time were considered suspicious and locals were getting fed up.

"Every year there are certain spots in Mt Morgan where fires start," he said.

"We've been keeping records for a number of years and there's a pattern forming... in certain areas that are out of sight and easily hidden, we can nearly guarantee a fire."

Last week's fire in the Struck Oil area is estimated to have burned 270ha of mostly private farm land.

"We take this as a serious threat to local communities and primary producers who have lost a lot of grass, a lot of feed and fences," said Mr Sealy. "And if you look at the amount of time and resources the fire service and the police put into the incident last week, it's a lot of money out of the state budget and money we could use in other areas."

He stressed that property owners must obtain a permit from their local fire warden to burn off.



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