Man who sparked Mount Archer bushfire fined
A LAKES CREEK property owner who conducted backburning without a permit, causing a bushfire in the nearby Mount Archer area last month, has been fined.
Mervyn Wayne Anderson, 63, pleaded guilty in Rockhampton Magistrates Court on Tuesday to lighting a fire that was not authorised under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990.
The bushfire threatened numerous homes in the Lakes Creek area and fire-fighters spent days protecting them from towering flames in the foothills of the Berserker Ranges.
The prosecution told the court that on September 8, police and emergency services attended the Lakes Creek area in relation to a vegetation fire that had been reported.
When police arrived they saw a large area of bushland on fire which was being combated by fire-fighters.
Police later interviewed Anderson (pictured), who resides in Montgomerie Street, and he told them that his property consisted of two 900m-square blocks.
He admitted to setting fire to an old log there, which he was trying to get rid of, in order to landscape the area.
Anderson said it was a practice he had undertaken previously with no adverse outcomes.
But this time it was different because it sparked a bushfire at a time when there was a fire ban in place.
Anderson told police that he had monitored the log until it was only smouldering and also intermittently throughout the day.
He said about 1pm he went inside his house to make some lunch and shortly after this, he saw smoke where there shouldn’t have been.
Upon closer inspection he noticed some lantana (a woody shrub that has thin, combustible canes) on fire.
He tried to put the fire out using buckets of water and stomping on it for about 20 minutes before fire-fighters arrived.
Anderson told police he was not aware of the fire ban at the time and they observed him to be “truly sorry for the disruption and damage that he had caused.”
Anderson’s lawyer told the court it had been trying times for his client with Anderson’s mother dying in the week of the fire incident and his daughter had undergone open heart surgery two days after it.
“He is clearly remorseful for his offending and he has no criminal history,” the lawyer said.
“He’s extremely fortunate that no property or lives were lost...and he’s certainly thankful that no property or lives were lost as a result of this fire getting out of control.
“This is more an offence of accident or negligence, rather than one of intention.”
Magistrate Cameron Press issued a general deterrence warning saying: “There’s a reason why you’ve got to have authority to light fires, as you found out, it’s obvious.”
He fined Anderson $900 and did not record a criminal conviction.