BE PREPARED: Byfield residents listen in on the information, about fuel loading, from rural fire authorities.
BE PREPARED: Byfield residents listen in on the information, about fuel loading, from rural fire authorities. Austin King

Byfield areas at risk of fire following Marcia damage

SCIENTIST Jim Gould has spent a month assessing the fire fuel loading risk in our region, following Cyclone Marcia, and it's a long road ahead.

A road that could be as long as five years... plus.

That's how long the retired Canberra-based scientist believed it could take for heavy fuel loading in the Byfield Rainforest to disintegrate.

That heavy fuel loading would result in more intensity to a fire, if one ever broke out in the rainforest (touch wood).

He also told a small crowd of Byfield residents, at a community meeting at the local hall, that following the cyclone's impact in February the finer loading in the rainforest had increased by between three and five tonnes a hectare.

"The cyclone did knock down a lot of vegetation and so parts of Byfield Rainforest are severely damaged and pose a big risk of fire," he said.

"What we need now, and over the next couple of years, is the right climate conditions - preferably more moisture - in order for that heavy fuel loading to break down."

Mr Gould said there was major damage in the pine plantations around Byfield.

An idea of the total damage and fuel loading throughout the region was subject to further assessment.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Service assistant commissioner Ewan Cayzler said rural firefighters in Byfield were "over prepared" for the fire season.

And that's just how he wanted it.

He advised residents to burn their piles of debris (after seeking permission) in smaller rather than bigger stacks this fire season.



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