Fire authorities work the Cobraball bushfires last week.
Fire authorities work the Cobraball bushfires last week.

Full extent of Cobraball bushfires becomes a lot clearer

THE full extent of the Cobraball bushfires has become clearer as authorities put measures in place to help the affected communities and the economy recover.

Tuesday’s Livingstone Shire Council meeting was informed that 15 homes and 41 other structures had been lost during last week’s disaster.

There was also significant damage to, and loss of, personal property including vehicles, machinery and fences.

About 12,000 hectares of land was impacted by the devastating fire front which was 17km by 13km wide.

Some 8500 hectares of grazing land was lost along with 275 hectares of horticultural production land, including tropical fruit crops.

In some cases, residents were evacuated for more than 72 hours and there had been “extended” electricity outages for five days or more.

As of last Friday, all evacuated residents had either been able to return to their homes or to appropriate longer-term accommodation.

Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig, also the Local Disaster Management Group chairman, said the region had suffered significant financial loss and there would be serious impacts on short and medium-term productivity.

“The total damage bill and loss of income for producers and businesses in the fire-impacted area is still being calculated, but is likely to run into the multi-millions,” Cr Ludwig said.

“Council will work tirelessly alongside other agencies to help those who have suffered significant financial hardship including loss of livelihood, home and contents, sheds, machinery, vehicles and stock and food supplies.

“The impact is still very raw and for some people, it will take years to recover.”

On Tuesday council revealed four specialised taskforces would be established to assist with bushfire recovery.

These taskforces are Community Development Recovery; Economic Recovery; Infrastructure Recovery; and Natural Environment Management Recovery.

Cr Ludwig said evacuated residents and businesses had been unable to feed and water stock for extended periods during evacuations and road closures.

“Fodder has been donated and offers of assistance are being compiled and paired up with those residents requiring help,” he said.

“The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is continuing to carry out assessments of affected businesses.”

As of Tuesday, 243 businesses had been identified as within the immediate fire-damaged area and 747 properties were identified within the impacted area.

Cr Ludwig said the economic taskforce was established to ensure impacted businesses would be supported through the recovery phase.

“Livingstone Shire Council is also working with Capricorn Enterprise and local businesses to spread the word that the Capricorn Coast is open for business,” he said.

“While the bushfire has had a devastating impact on our community, we want to ensure visitors know there are many beautiful, natural attractions and pristine coastlines to enjoy.”

The Queensland Government has made immediate financial assistance available to Livingstone Shire bushfire victims.

Natural Disaster Minister David Littleproud said the payments were on top of DRFA assistance, which had already been made available.

“This is $180 per person, to a maximum of $900 for a family of five or more,” he said.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said concessional loans would provide long-term assistance to primary producers in Central Queensland that had been directly impacted.

“In Livingstone Shire, concessional loans of up to $250,000 are available to help primary producers repair or replace fire damaged buildings, plant and equipment or livestock, and up to $100,000 to help primary producers continue operations who have suffered a significant loss of income,” Mr Crawford said.

“Freight subsidies will also be available to primary producers of up to $5000 to help with the transportation of stock, feed, machinery, fuel, and water, as well as building and fencing materials.”

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