Casey Van Hese - owner of CQ Building and Pest Inspections leaves the Rockhampton Courthouse after giving evidence at the inquest into the death of Isabella Diefenbach.   Photo Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin  ROK201011court1
Casey Van Hese - owner of CQ Building and Pest Inspections leaves the Rockhampton Courthouse after giving evidence at the inquest into the death of Isabella Diefenbach. Photo Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin ROK201011court1 Emma McBryde

Unauthorised fire lit during Queensland-wide ban

GRACEMERE had been evacuated overnight only two weeks earlier and the weather conditions remained treacherous, but that didn't stop one man from illegally lighting a fire.

Casey Peter Van Hese pleaded guilty in Rockhampton Magistrates Court yesterday to one count of lighting an unauthorised fire.

Police prosecutor Jess King said there was a fire ban in Queensland between November 28 and December 10 as central Queensland experienced unprecedented bushfires.

Central Queensland fires rolling coverage

GRACEMERE: Up to 8000 people told evacuate

She said emergency services were called to a strip of land near the Rockhampton-Yeppoon Rd at 7pm on December 10 after witnesses observed Van Hese light a fire that was five metres by 20 metres, about 20 metres away from the road.

Ms King said the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services attended the fire with Van Hese.

She said police spoke with Van Hese later at his residence and he told them he had been backburning that parcel of land for 30 years.

Ms King said Van Hese told police he wasn't aware of the fire ban but agreed, given the weather conditions, he should not have lit the fire.

Van Hese, representing himself in court, said CQ had received 100mm of rain the night before and the ground was damp, so he thought it would be fine.

He said there was a fire break in place, the wind was blowing in the right direction and he had an excavator sitting 400m away from the fire.

Van Hese said he always did back burning, when needed, after rain and had never sought a permit to carry out a backburn.

He was ordered to pay a $750 fine and no conviction was recorded.



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