Arson attack on Rockhampton home
AN arson attack during the region's worst bushfire season has left firefighters fuming and residents like Louise Ryan petrified.
When flames started raging behind her Glendale home on Sunday night, her husband Rick immediately started protecting the property with a shovel and dirt at the fence line.
Mrs Ryan stayed with her five children and watched the massive orange glow from a few hundred metres away screaming Rick's name every few minutes to make sure he was OK.
The children, led by the eldest, an 11-year-old, raced to the front of the home and used garden lights to signal to the arriving fire trucks.
Four fire crews battled the blaze for five hours in the darkness, protecting a number of homes which were under threat.
But yesterday the fire which burnt out Belmont Creek, reignited at 11am and raged out of control for hours again.
“How can someone do this?” an angry Mrs Ryan said as she wept.
“It's just wrong - where do they get off? This fire is not because of a really hot day, it was a deliberate act.”
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Central Region assistant commissioner Neil Gallant said it was believed the fire was suspicious because there were multiple areas of origin along the creek bed.
He also said it was unusual for fire to ignite on its own at 9pm.
Mrs Ryan said it was pure luck that her husband had just finished creating a fire break at the back of the property last weekend.
And the garden lights the children used to show fire officers where to go were only bought on Sunday.
Mrs Ryan described the fire as “fast and quick” and said the firefighters needed to be praised for their actions. “One of the young officers only finished at our home at 3.30am and he was back again at 11am,” she said.
“Those guys need a medal.”
Assistant commissioner Gallant said arson was a very serious crime that carried a maximum penalty of life in prison. He said everyone should be aware of the dangers of deliberately lighting fires.
“They shouldn't be under the misconception that it will stay in a grassy area,” he said.
“Starting in any location could very well involve burning someone's house down.”
A complete fire ban is still in place across the region due to extreme weather conditions.
Assistant commissioner Gallant said residents needed to take their own fire precautions because with the number of unprecedented fires around the region, crews might not always be available at short notice. “If a large fire develops quickly, we simply haven't got the resources.”
He encouraged residents to report any suspicious activity or any fires immediately.
A police investigation into the Glendale incident is underway.