Brian Smith stands above his water tanks that were burnt in the wildfires along Yeppoon Rd over the weekend.
Brian Smith stands above his water tanks that were burnt in the wildfires along Yeppoon Rd over the weekend.

Backburning damages property

A DISGRUNTLED property owner has raised questions with the Rural Fire Service, claiming backburning actions caused $35,000 damage to his property at the weekend.

Brian Smith, who owns 38.5 hectares (95 acres) along the Rockhampton-Yeppoon Rd, has questioned why the volunteers backburned on the western side of his property, lit fires below a mulched area (that a previous owner had put in) and once that had died down, left him there on the property alone with a garden hose.

The mulch caught on fire and Mr Smith said he tried to wet it down as much as possible.

He said the result of the backburning left two of his plastic water tanks melted to the ground, damaged pipes and pump, and mulch smouldering for days.

Queensland Rural Fire Service Superintendent Tony Hazell said action taken by the volunteer firefighters were to protect his assets and the Lovendee rural community.

"We acknowledge the loss that has occurred as the result of the wildfire," he said.

Mr Smith said he couldn't understand why they backburned on the western side of his property when the wildfire was on the eastern side.

Mr Hazell said it was deemed too unsafe for the firefighters to go through the terrain to backburn the eastern side at 9pm, and they were able to create a complete firebreak link by backburning on the western side.

"The fire behaviour on the weekend was extreme," he said.

"The winds that were there down in Gladstone area were causing the fire to jump roads and railway lines."

Mr Hazell said therefore, there was a need to backburn a couple of kilometres away from the frontline and backburn bigger than normal areas.

He said there will be an investigation into the backburning advice given to the firefighters and Mr Smith.


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