The fire burning near Cathedral's on Fraser Island.
The fire burning near Cathedral's on Fraser Island.

FEELING THE HEAT: QPWS hits back at fire response criticism

QUEENSLAND PARKS and Wildlife Service (QPWS) has responed to criticims the organisation had not properly prepared for bush fires on Fraser Island.

It comes after tourism operators who rely on travel to the island accused the organisation of mismanagement of the land prior to the fires.

A QPWS spokeswoman said "QPWS has conducted significant fire mitigation on Fraser Island, with planned burns averaging approximately 13,000 hectares per year over the last five years."

"This year the focus was on protection burns for communities of Orchid Beach and Happy Valley which are smaller in size but more complex to implement.

"The department uses a variety of fire mitigation techniques on the island including using machinery to maintain fire breaks and conduct planned burns to reduce fuel loads.

The spokeswoman said the fire-inducing conditons of prolonged hot periods, windy and dry weather are still effecting the island.

"These factors have reduced the effectiveness of firefighting efforts that have been ongoing on the island, however significant fire mitigation has occurred."

Tourism operators also criticised QPWS for a perceived lack of maintence of bush tracks, to which QPWS responded "Great Sandy Area is allocated $500,000 per annum for road and track maintenance, of which Fraser Island is allocated 80% ($400,000.) This includes maintenance work on firelines."

"As always, QPWS will examine all aspects of the fire following the event to inform future practices and preparations."