BACKYARD fires in residential areas are illegal and people can be fined for lighting them.
Queensland Fire and Rescue branches in Port Douglas and Mossman have been inundated recently with backyard fire complaints from around the region, more recently in Wonga Beach.
Acting station officer of Port Douglas, Russell Clarke, said residents in more remote residential properties are not aware they are not a rural zone.
‘‘If you look at your rates notice and if it says you are in a residential area you cannot light a fire,’’ he said.
‘‘The only exception is you are allowed to have a cooking fire, have a hungi or make coals for the purpose of cooking, but you can’t smoke out your neighbours.
‘‘If you are rural you don’t need a permit to light a fire under 2m in any direction, but there are still conditions and it’s advised you contact your local fire warden.’’
Lighting an illegal fire can attract fines starting from $250 and going up and the person who lit the fire can be liable for damages. ‘‘The risk is, if the fire gets away and starts an out-of-control fire, that person can be liable for any damage or loss of life involved from their first lighting of the fire,’’ Mr Clarke said.
‘‘And people in a residential area need to consider their neighbours who might be asthmatics or have a low tolerance to smoke.
‘‘The days of the old backyard fire in residential backyards are gone, even if you have a fire pit or something made to contain the fire, it’s still classed as a fire and they will be asked to extinguish the fire, or it becomes a breach of the law.’’
For information go to www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au or contact your local fire warden.