Rural Fire Service Mackay area director Andrew Houley observing a burnt area of the The Leap after a controlled burn.
Rural Fire Service Mackay area director Andrew Houley observing a burnt area of the The Leap after a controlled burn.

Weather prime for ‘accidental ignitions’ warn fireys

FIREYS have warned the high temperatures, drought conditions and northerly winds are mixing a dangerous cocktail for “accidental ignitions”.

There has been at least one bushfire every day this week in the Mackay Whitsundays Isaac region with at least four on Thursday including a ute that ignited and started a 100m2 blaze.

Queensland Rural Fire Service Mackay area director Andrew Houley said he held concerns for conditions headed into the weekend.

“We’ve had four fires in the Blue Mountains in a week,” Mr Houley said.

Emergency services raced to contain a grassfire that destroyed seven vehicles and threatened a Blue Mountain home on Sunday November 1. Picture: ZIzi Averill
Emergency services raced to contain a grassfire that destroyed seven vehicles and threatened a Blue Mountain home on Sunday November 1. Picture: ZIzi Averill

“People don’t realise how dry it really is.

“Our drought index, which is a measure of how dry we really are is at 182. 200 is the max.”

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Mr Houley said dry grounds fuelled this week’s blazes combined with northerly winds that carried less humidity than seabreezes.

He said adding to the mix were areas cloaked in dead grass from heavy frosts earlier in the year.

Rural Fire Service Mackay area director Andrew Houley observing a burnt area of the The Leap after a controlled burn around rural properties to prepare for this year's fire season.
Rural Fire Service Mackay area director Andrew Houley observing a burnt area of the The Leap after a controlled burn around rural properties to prepare for this year's fire season.

With sparks travelling further on the oven-like winds, Mr Houley urged people to take extra care.

“Every time we get a northerly, we get accidental ignitions so machinery equipment fire — things like exhaust pipes on vehicles, slashers, grinders welding,” he said.

A vegetation fire broke out on Mount Whitsunday Rd, Airlie Beach this week. Photo: Elyse Wurm
A vegetation fire broke out on Mount Whitsunday Rd, Airlie Beach this week. Photo: Elyse Wurm

“The message is if we could just get people to take extra care when using a brush cutter, slasher, mower, grinding or welding — anything that can cause a spark.

“Steel on rocks starts a fire pretty easily in these conditions.”

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Mr Houley said they preferred people did these activities later in the afternoon and had water, an extinguisher or water blanket on standby.

Capcoal Open Cut Mine workers came to a driver’s rescue on Thursday after their vehicle caught on fire. Picture: Anglo American
Capcoal Open Cut Mine workers came to a driver’s rescue on Thursday after their vehicle caught on fire. Picture: Anglo American

Or you could water down the area before doing welding other spark-inducing activities, he suggested.

“We’re at the end of the long dry period before the wet,” Mr Houley said.


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