TEMPERATURES HEATING UP: Barcaldine/Emerald Rural Fire Service Area training and support officer Alan Johnson with a Rural Fire Service fire truck.
TEMPERATURES HEATING UP: Barcaldine/Emerald Rural Fire Service Area training and support officer Alan Johnson with a Rural Fire Service fire truck. Jessica Dorey

Fire danger high in central Queensland

CENTRAL Queensland's fire danger rating reached high this week, offering a glimpse of what could be to come this season.

The danger rating came after a dry and hot weekend and issued a stark reminder it is the middle of bushfire season.

Emerald and Barcaldine Rural Fire Service Area training and support officer Alan Johnson said although the region had a wet winter, residents should not be complacent.

"Over the past few days the high temperatures have caused our grass to dry off a little bit, which has added to the fire risk," he said.

"It demonstrates that although there's still green out there that grass can dry off very quickly."

Mr Johnson said the rain also added a few risks that people might not be aware of.

"Fortunately, we've had a lot of rain during our dry time of year. Unfortunately, however, it has caused a lot of weeds to grow," he said.

"Weeds, unlike grass, are not easily maintained by grazing cattle.

"This increase in vegetation increases the risk of fire."

With more dry weather ahead, Mr Johnson said residents should not bank on the wet winter seeing us through the fire season.

"It's very difficult to say what type of season it will be," he said.

"But it is an unknown factor as to whether it will rain again. I don't think we can bank on the rain - we've got to be ready for the risk of fire."

The Rural Fire Service warns grass fires travel very quickly. Slight changes in wind or even vegetation can dramatically change the risk of the fire in a matter of seconds. These factors, combined with central Queensland's climate, can be a dangerous mix.

"Fire risk is highest when relative humidity is low, temperature is high and winds are dry and hot," Mr Johnson said.

The Rural Fire Service is calling on residents to ensure they have completed the necessary preparation for fire season.

"They can put in fire breaks, clear gutters and clear around their homes," Mr Johnson said.

"It is also important for large property owners to have fire fighting gear prepared and maintained ready for a fire.

"We have brigades that are well prepared for the fire season, but residents need to ensure they've taken all the preventative action they can."

To find out more about how you can prepare for bush fires, visit www.rural fire.qld.gov.au or drop into your local office.


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