Weekend brings high fire danger
FIRE danger warnings have been issued to Central Queensland residents as emergency services are concerned with the potential loss of lives.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Central Region assistant commissioner Neil Gallant said conditions this weekend will be as bad as those during the October 2009 bushfires.
With temperatures predicted to reach or exceed 35 degrees across most of the region at the weekend, very low humidity and strong wind warnings of up to 50kmh issued, the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) has activated alert stage.
Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor and LDMG chair councillor Brad Carter said people should act now to prepare their homes for the bushfire season.
"Do not become complacent, although there is a current cloud cover, Saturday and Sunday are optimal conditions for bushfires and I urge people to prepare their homes now," Cr Carter said yesterday afternoon.
"The LDMG will be closely monitoring any outbreaks of bushfires across the region."
QFRS chief superintendent Colin May said the fire service was well advanced in planning for this weekend, which included bringing in resources from other regions.
"We are concerned this is going to be a very busy weekend," he said.
Mr Gallant said one of the concerns with the very strong dry winds was that it could be a challenge to keep current fires within the containment lines.
Queensland Police Service Inspector David Peff said there had been rumours and reports of people lighting spot fires recently and urged people to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, their local police station or 000 at the time the act was being carried out.
"I don't want to see anyone die as a result of fires being lit when they shouldn't be," he said.
Insp. Peff warned penalties for purposely lighting fires during a ban go up to life imprisonment if the fire resulted in human deaths.
He said police anticipated many roads would probably have to be closed off and for many hours.
"We ask people if roads are closed, don't be foolhardy and drive around," Insp. Peff said.
Mr Gallant said the forecast showed today not too bad for fire conditions, but Saturday could be a particularly bad day with a trough from the west to come straight through Central Queensland.
He said the trough would bring strong dry winds of 40-50kmh through the Rockhampton/Capricorn region Saturday afternoon.
Mr Gallant said in preparation for the coming weekend, QFRS has organised two incident control rooms, and extra staff from other regions.
He said the difference between 2009 and now was there have been more individual fires this time, with 417 vegetation fires in Central Queensland in September and 92 since October 1. He said there were only seven at this time last year.
Bad fire conditions
Strong dry winds forecasted 40-50kmh on Saturday afternoon
Maximum temperature forecasted for Saturday is 32 and Sunday is 31
There were 417 vegetation fires in Central Queensland in September
There have been 92 vegetation fires in CQ October 1-6
Incident control centres Gladstone and North Rockhampton
Strike teams coming from Toowoomba and Mackay
Specialist fire officers from Brisbane and South East to help fire investigators on their way
Challenge will be to keep current fires in containment lines
Four illuminated signs to display up-to-date road closure information for motorists
If you are going to leave - prepare for where you are going to go, how you are going to get there and what you are going to take.
If you are going to stay, you must have a plan for how you are going to survive and where you will shelter. Know what equipment you need.
Have a contingency plan - know where your nearest Neighbourhood Safer Place is.
You need to be both mentally and physically prepared to carry out your survival plan.
Prepare your home and property to survive a fire front and ensure you have adequate levels of insurance.