Welder’s spark is likely cause of Gran­tham fire

Gatton Star - - NEWS -

‘SNAPPY-BROWN’ fuel with ab­so­lutely no mois­ture made fire­fight­ing con­di­tions tough for emer­gency ser­vices at Gran­tham.

With min­i­mal wind and hu­mid­ity, QFES area di­rec­tor for West More­ton Peter Roberts said it was the fuel it­self that drove the Philps Rd fire and es­ca­lated its in­ten­sity.

The blaze, on Thurs­day last week, was mostly con­tained to one prop­erty, but did cross the War­rego High­way, which Mr Roberts said was brought un­der con­trol quickly.

It im­pacted the rail­way cor­ri­dor, but Mr Roberts said there was no need to stop rail trans­port.

He said QFES was in­ves­ti­gat­ing the fire’s cause but it was prob­a­bly started by a welder on the prop­erty.

“The dry­ness of the fuel is prob­a­bly as close to record of how dry it re­ally can be,” Mr Roberts said. “There is no mois­ture in the soil (or fuel) at all … that fuel is just ready to go with any ig­ni­tion source what­so­ever.”

A to­tal of 21 fire­fight­ing ap­pli­ances, six com­mand ve­hi­cles and two air­craft bat­tled the blaze that burned trough 123 hectares.

Mr Roberts com­mended the ef­forts of paid and vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers.

“They did some bril­liant work out there, they fought hard and long,” he said.

But with much of the state and nation im­pacted by the drought, Mr Roberts said it was shap­ing up to be a par­tic­u­larly volatile sea­son.

“All th­ese el­e­ments (fuel loads, mois­ture, hu­mid­ity) go into the mix to cre­ate a more dan­ger­ous sea­son com­pared to ones we’ve seen in the past.”

He urged res­i­dents liv­ing in or along­side ru­ral ar­eas to have bush­fire plans ready.

“As many fire­fight­ers as we have, we do not have one for each house,” he said.

Gran­tham res­i­dent Clin­ton Wil­liams was driv­ing home from school pick up when he saw smoke and thought it was “too close” to home.

Driv­ing closer to the War­rego High­way overpass, he no­ticed its prox­im­ity and raced home to grab a lap­top with pho­tos and the fam­ily dog. The fire came within 300 me­tres of the Wil­liam’s 100-acre hobby farm home.

“I was quite ter­ri­fied, we knew it was go­ing to be a bad fire sea­son,” he said.

“We are in the process of build­ing a fire trailer to look af­ter the house and prop­erty, and my thought was ‘I was a week away from it be­ing fin­ished’.”

Mr Wil­liams said if the wind had in­creased he would have lost ev­ery­thing with the amount of dry tim­ber in the pad­docks.

—Ali Kuchel

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