Susan and Isabella Hiley relax in their favourite part of their garden that backs on to the Berserker Ranges.
Susan and Isabella Hiley relax in their favourite part of their garden that backs on to the Berserker Ranges. Allan Reinikka

Banding together for fire season

RESIDENTS, like Susan Hiley, who found themselves in the firing line during Rockhampton's 2009 blazes are banding together to support each other, Neil Fisher says.

The former Rockhampton city councillor and Bulletin gardening columnist said many were concerned little had been done to learn the lessons from two years ago and they now found themselves once again at nature's mercy.

At the weekend Neil was among those who went to pockets of Koongal along Rockonia Rd, Hinds St and Cooper St making sure people were preparing their properties.

He fears the amount of fuel in the surrounding area is greater than in 2009.

Fire authorities have assured residents they will be given plenty of notice of any looming fire, however, they are urging all residents living near bushland to prepare.

The matter of preparedness has also become a political issue after Member for Mirani Ted Malone said government bureaucracy had stopped departments properly preparing for the upcoming bushfire season.

Susan, who lives on Hinds St, said she was concerned, with the memories of 2009 still fresh in her mind.

“That was a very frightening time for us when we had to evacuate,” Susan said.

“I thought we'd lost the home.”

She said she'd spoken to people on her street urging them to prepare. The weekend was spent getting her home ready.

“I guess at this stage you feel that it's too early to be thinking about fires, but we've all got to get ready,” Susan said.

Neil said it was anxious times for residents with authorities predicting what could be the worst fire season in 20 years, and a blaze that burnt above them on Mt Archer last week.

He said people were no longer waiting for the authorities to communicate to them and were working together to support each other.

Between 60 and 70 ute loads of rubbish, such as dry leaves, were taken to the city landfill at the weekend.

“A lot of people are nervous because we can see the fuel load,” Neil said.

“The time bomb is ticking.”

He said following the 2009 bushfires Mayor Brad Carter met with the community, but there had been no follow-up since that meeting. He also wants council to clear the land it controls.

And he said everyone should be told where and when they would get information if the worst case scenario unfolded.

He said a communication line should be widely publicised so people could quickly access information.

Cr Carter said council had worked with the community and liaised with Queensland Fire and Rescue Service who were responsible for the management of bushfires. He said the Local Disaster Management Group was on standby as the bushfire season approached.

“I have been receiving regular updates from the assistant fire commissioner on the status of fires,” Cr Carter said.

“Neil Fisher has not raised these issues with me and I'd be happy for him to come in and identify his concerns rather than trying to gain political mileage at a time when we need to be working with our community.”

Council owns a small parcel of land along Hinds St which is maintained under its fire mitigation works schedule. Work for this area is scheduled for this month.

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