Welder’s spark is likely cause of Grantham fire
‘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.