FIRIES BLAZE OVER ‘ ARSON’
Crews blast time- wasters for setting grass fires
FIREBUGS are suspected of lighting three grass fires around Townsville in the past week, putting lives at risk and tying up emergency services.
Fires have been lit in parks and vacant land in Oonoonba, Mount Louisa and Mundingburra, blanketing the city in smoke and leaving large tracts of charred land.
High winds and tinder- dry grass has helped fan the fires, which have quickly erupted into large blazes, tying up valuable Queensland Fire and Emergency Services resources.
QFES Northern Area Commander Mark McKenzie said grass fires such as the one lit at Oonoonba on Sunday, which flared up again yesterday, tied up crews for several hours.
“To us, that’s 4 ½ hours those crews were unable to respond to something where people may have had a greater need,” he said.
“The thing these people don’t realise is they may think they are lighting an innocent fire but if they get trapped in there, they are going to get burned as well.”
Mr McKenzie said there was a lot of dry tinder around Townsville, which meant blazes could quickly flare out of control.
“The conditions at the moment are dry,” he said.
“There’s no dew, no humidity. With higher and dry winds, once a fire gets hold at the moment, it will travel quite quickly along the ground.”
Mundingburra Police officer- in- charge Senior Sergeant Graeme Patterson said people caught lighting grass fires could be charged with arson or endangering property by fire.
“The maximum penalty ( for endangering property by fire) is 14 years’ imprisonment and the maximum penalty for arson is a life sentence,” SenSgt Patterson said.
“Fire is a very powerful force and it can get away from people and they won’t have any ability to stop it once it’s gone.”
Fire is a very powerful force
and it can get away from people and they won’t have any ability to stop it once it’s gone
SEN- SGT GRAEME PATTERSON
DRY CONDITIONS: QFES Northern Area Commander Mark McKenzie at the site of grass fires on Abbott St.