Rockhampton-Yeppon Road resident Jim Hodges watches on as rural firefighters battle flames bordering his fenceline.
Rockhampton-Yeppon Road resident Jim Hodges watches on as rural firefighters battle flames bordering his fenceline. Megan Lewis ML17/0609/4

Steady vigil on bushfire

WHILE Jim Hodges' eyes were on protecting his property from a major bushfire off the Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road yesterday, the search began to catch the person who had started it.

Authorities are treating the fire as suspicious and yesterday appealed for anyone with information about how it might have started to come forward.

Firefighters said the blaze had a two kilometre front yesterday afternoon and had swept across an estimated four kilometres of bushland from behind Norman Gardens and along the Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road.

The blaze ran adjacent to the Mt Archer National Park and spread from east to north.

The blaze was reportedly contained near Access 5 yesterday afternoon; however, authorities fear weather conditions could stir it into life again.

No homes were threatened.

Mr Hodges said the front had passed between 200 and 400 metres of his place.

Speaking from the scene of the fire yesterday afternoon Queensland Fire and Rescue Service area director Colin May said 14 crews had spent the day battling the blaze.

“Control lines were put in place with a grader and we back-burned from there,” Mr May said.

The fire was being monitored last night by Queensland parks and wildlife officers.

Mr May said it had been expected the fire, which started soon after midday on Tuesday, would be under control that night, but the weather conditions hadn't been as cold or damp as anticipated.

“We are treating it as suspicious, just by its location,” Mr May said.

“We will be taking this up with police.”

He said anyone who might have seen someone acting suspiciously near Springfield Drive, Norman Gardens, on Tuesday should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

At stages yesterday, authorities had to close the north-bound lane of the Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road because of the fire and resulting smoke.

There were reports some motorists drove through the thick smoke at high speeds, prompting a warning from Mr May for drivers to slow down and use their headlights.

He said it was unusual for such a fire this early in the season.

“It's very dry conditions,” Mr May said.

“If this is an indication of how things will be, we can expect a bad season.”

Aerial observations were made on the fire by helicopter.

Mr Hodges said the threat of bushfires was part of life for those who lived in the area.

“This is nearly an annual event for us; we would get a fire at least every second year,” he said.

Speaking after the front had passed by his home, Mr Hodges said he kept a clear fire break to his property.

“We've got the area well cleared with fire breaks,” he said.

“But I always keep my eyes on them.

“I would say at its closest it came between 200m and 400m to our property.”

He said fire brigades were there by 6am.

“I've been here for 21 years now,” Mr Hodges said. “We praise the good work they do.

“They're a gem.”



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