Fuel reduction frustration
By Daisy Baker
June 12, 2019
Bridport resident Lyn Commane is distributing a petition throughout the town this week, calling for Crown Land to conduct fuel reduction burns on the western side of Bridport.
Ms Commane is working alongside Council to lobby Crown Land after burns scheduled for autumn didn’t eventuate.
She said she was concerned about the fire risk posed by the bush behind the football ground and the Council depot.
“That’s the way a prevailing wind comes and there’s a lot of houses up this way now that could be damaged if there was a fire, as well the footy ground, the netball court, the retirement village and the water treatment plant,” she said.
“I wrote a letter to Council to see if we could get some reduction burns done over winter and they said while it’s not Council land, they also would like to see it cleared.”
The petition will be circulated this week and residents will be able to sign it until late June.
Mayor Greg Howard said the petition will provide Council with an opportunity to sit down with Parks and Wildlife and present residents’ concerns.
“Parks and Wildlife said they would be doing fuel reduction burns around Granite Point and the conservation area but that hasn’t happened and clearly they don’t understand the risk the fuel load poses,” he said.
“The whole of the Wildflower Reserve and Granite Point presents a massive risk to the town. “It needs to be burned on a regular basis, not just every 20 years. When you let it grow up and have a huge fuel load, you end up with massive devastation to the trees because they get too hot.”
Bridport Fire Brigade captain Matthew Hartley said the western side of Bridport is of concern, but he believes there are fuel reduction burns scheduled for later in the year.
“Any section of vegetation close to housing is a concern,” he said
“All the mitigation is done by Parks and Wildlife Services.
“TFS can assist in the burning off but the planning and the actual lighting is done by Parks.”
Cr Howard said there are several other areas that need fuel reduction burns throughout Gladstone, Pioneer, South Mount Cameron and Mt Stronach.
Winnaleah Fire Brigade captain Arthur Taylor said since the North-East Fire Management Committee dissolved around 2010, local brigades have had limited involvement in fuel reduction burns.
“A lot of our brigade’s area is managed by Forestry or Parks and Wildlife Services so they manage the burns and it’s been a long time since we’ve had to assist,” he said.
“Lots of the firebreaks we had have grown over. When Forestry fell apart, we lost a lot of the resources to maintain the trails.”
Scottsdale Fire Brigade captain Bob Barrett said one of the biggest concerns in their area is Mt Stronach.
“It’s not as much of a concern as it was years ago when there was French Pine and AusPine because and there was the risk of a spark landing in their site,” he said.
“Nevertheless, if a wildfire took off through there now it would be devastating and would take years to recover.
“It’s not a big area to burn but ideally you’d do it over three to five days, burning it slowing in the right conditions.
“There are other points on Old Waterhouse Road where the fuel level is very high.”
Mr Hartley said anyone planning burns on private property should be respectful of their neighbours by taking responsibility for the fire and smoke it causes, and registering the burn on 1800 000 699 to avoid unnecessary call outs.