Fight for con­trol

Central and North Burnett Times - - LOCAL NEWS - ❏ Sue Har­ris

RE­LIEF was ob­vi­ous on the faces of ev­ery­one at the fi­nal briefing at the Mun­dub­bera fire com­mand cen­tre on Sun­day.

Queens­land Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice of­fi­cers an­nounced the fire that had been burn­ing for al­most a week was fi­nally un­der con­trol.

The large bush­fire had been burn­ing in in­ac­ces­si­ble land in the Al­lies Creek State For­est and had spread to pas­toral and grass­land south-west of Mun­dub­bera.

More than 120,000 acres or 48,500 hectares were burned, but no homes or stock were re­ported as lost.

A strike team from Rock­hamp­ton joined sev­eral other crews, vol­un­teer ru­ral bri­gades, Parks and Wildlife of­fi­cers and landown­ers to fight the mas­sive blaze.

QFRS set up a con­trol cen­tre at the Mun­dub­bera Fire Sta­tion to as­sist the lo­cal community and mon­i­tor the health and well­be­ing of fire crews.

On Sun­day landown­ers were re­lieved to hear QFRS was ramp­ing down in the Mun­dub­bera area and mov­ing to Kin­garoy where light­ning strikes had caused prob­lems.

QFRS bush­fire safety of­fi­cer Craig Mag­ick said safety had been man­aged “ex­tremely well”.

“Tech sup­port helped out with a few black spots so that plans could be com­mu­ni­cated ef­fec­tively,” he said.

Mayor Don Waugh and Coun­cil­lor Faye Whe­lan said they were grate­ful for the pro­fes­sional and ef­fec­tive way the op­er­a­tion was car­ried out.

But com­mu­ni­ca­tion was iden­ti­fied as an area need­ing at­ten­tion.

“In the North Bur­nett we have huge ar­eas of for­est and vul­ner­a­bil­ity and poor mo­bile phone re­cep­tion,” Cr Whe­lan said.

“The black spots are a con­cern, which we’ll try to ad­dress.”

Some res­i­dents said they had been sur­prised at the num­ber of peo­ple work­ing at the com­mand cen­tre.

But Cr Whe­lan said each per­son had an im­por­tant role to play.

“It was a large area so the ground crews had to be de­ployed to cer­tain ar­eas and man­aged,” Cr Whe­lan said.

“Peo­ple have to do this oth­er­wise it would be a sham­bles.

“The com­mand cen­tre per­son­nel man­aged com­mu­ni­ca­tions ... so the need was for tech­ni­cians, IT peo­ple and fire ser­vice peo­ple who could use the satel­lite tech­nol­ogy.

“Safety of­fi­cers pa­trolled the fire and kept ev­ery­one safe. Other of­fi­cers re­ported the sta­tus of the event reg­u­larly and dealt with me­dia.

“The food and ac­com­mo­da­tion for the vol­un­teers and QFRS was dealt with by a sec­tion to­gether with fuel and other sup­plies.

“There were fire in­spec­tors and con­trollers who li­aise with the com­mis­sioner and the coun­cil and of­fi­cers to record and doc­u­ment the event.”

Cr Whe­lan said it had been a pro­fes­sion­ally--man­aged event.

“If they had been ad hoc and an in­ci­dent oc­curred the pub­lic would have wanted an­swers,” she said.

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter John McVeigh is urg­ing pri­mary pro­duc­ers se­verely af­fected by the fires to make an In­di­vid­u­ally Dis­as­ter Stricken Prop­erty ap­pli­ca­tion. Pri­mary pro­duc­ers who have suf­fered sub­stan­tial loss should phone the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Fish­eries and Forestry on 13 25 23 as soon as pos­si­ble and re­quest an IDSP as­sess­ment.

■ What did you think about the fire re­sponse? Were you af­fected? Let us know at ed­i­to­rial@south­bur­nett­ .au.

Photo: Sue Har­ris

FI­NAL BRIEFING: Re­lieved that the mas­sive fire is un­der con­trol, Joe Cullen (QFRS Bri­gade train­ing and sup­port of­fi­cer) and Craig Mag­ick (QFRS bush­fire safety of­fi­cer) showthe ex­tent of the burned area to Mayor Don Waugh and Coun­cil­lor Faye Whe­lan in Mun­dub­bera on Sun­day morn­ing.

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