Firies get tough after 40 bush fires ignite near Gympie
FORTY bushfires between the Gympie region and Fraser Coast last month has prompted fire authorities to issue a stern warning to property owners to follow the rules or face prosecution.
Rural Fire Service area director Konrad Sawczynski has flagged taking tough measures against those caught flouting the Permit to Light Fire system after the string of incidents in July.
"People who light fires without a permit are playing Russian roulette with their lives and the lives of others,” Mr Sawczynski said.
"We are now entering bushfire-like conditions in Gympie and on the Fraser Coast and we are anticipating a long bushfire season similar to last year.
"Under these conditions, it only takes one unauthorised burn to get out of hand to threaten lives and properties.”
Mr Sawczynskiâ's comments came following a rise in bushfire activity between Gympie and the Fraser Coast last month.
"We received more than 40 reports of bush fires between Gympie and the Fraser Coast in the month of July, surpassing the number recorded the same time last year,” he said.
Mr Sawczynski said the RFS would not hesitate to take action against people caught conducting unauthorised burns on their properties.
"Offenders can be fined or imprisoned, and the RFS may look at prosecuting offenders if these types of incidents keep occurring,” he said.
"The number of unauthorised burns in Gympie and on the Fraser Coast is remaining stubbornly consistent.
"This is very concerning given the ground is rapidly drying out and temperatures are rising, creating the perfect conditions for bushfires to start quickly and spread.”
Mr Sawczynski said residents must contact their local fire warden to obtain a free permit if they wanted to conduct a burn larger than two metres in any direction.
"The Permit to Light Fire system is there to ensure fires are lit and managed safely,” he said.
"A permit will detail when a burn can take place to ensure it is conducted in the right conditions, while permit holders must also notify their neighbours and the first officer of their local RFS brigade before lighting a fire.
"I want Gympie and Fraser Coast residents to reduce potential bushfire risks on their properties, and conducting a burn is an effective way of doing so.
"But people risk endangering themselves, their neighbours and properties if they ignore correct procedures.”
Landholders can use the Fire Warden Finder tool on the RFS website or contact their area office to locate their local fire warden and obtain a permit.
Details are available at ruralfire.qld.gov.au