Perfect weather for fires
A WET summer may be the prediction, but a dry spring is already upon us, with rising fire danger ratings and forecasts that things will get worse as the week continues.
The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service yesterday warned all Queenslanders to be "cautious and vigilant" in the face of "forecasts of very high fire danger in coming days."
Acting rural operations assistant commissioner Paul Adcock said firefighters across the state were kept busy yesterday responding to wildfires.
Indications from the Bureau of Meteorology yesterday were that early morning fog would provide the only dampness in the Gympie Region for the next few days, with continuing fine weather across most of the Wide Bay Burnett region.
"There is no doubt the weather conditions of high temperatures, north to north-westerly winds and low humidity, which we are experiencing now, are perfect conditions for fire," Mr Adcock said.
He said the mix of weather conditions had prompted the QFRS to urge all Queenslanders to take care.
"Just yesterday firefighters responded to more than 180 vegetation fires across Queensland," he said.
"We have already postponed a number of 'permit burns' across the state, but if you have a valid permit, please rethink the need to light up over the coming days.
Landowners who have conducted hazard reduction burns recently are strongly encouraged to take immediate steps to ensure that their fire has been properly extinguished or to make sure the residual fire is contained so that it will not escape."
Mr Adcock reminded residents of the declaration of a Fire Danger Period for the state.
"Except for a fire for cooking or warmth, residents are not allowed to light a fire regardless of size without a permit," he said.
"This has been the case since midnight September 4 and will continue until Sunday January 1, 2012.
"This is not to be confused with a Fire Ban, under which permits would not be issued and existing permits would be cancelled.
"This measure has been put in place to assist the rural fire service to monitor the issuing of permits and ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent fire escapes.
"Permits can be obtained free of charge from local fire wardens," he said.
Mr Adcock said obtaining a fire permit from a local fire warden is a simple process and "ensures appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent escapes.
"We are also asking people to ensure they are not throwing cigarette butts out of car windows and to be careful when operating machinery in grassed areas," Mr Adcock said.
He said these possibly unexpected causes of fire had been significant across the state in recent days.
"A number of fires have recently been started by slashers, mowers, graders and welders.
"One spark can result in a fire that can end up threatening properties and lives.
"People operating these types of machinery should have some equipment with them to be able to extinguish these small fires before they get out of control."
Mr Adcock said more information about permits to light fires and useful data on preparing for the bushfire season can be found at www.rural fire.qld.gov.au
He said the heightened fire danger across the state did not appear set to let up over the next few days and real care was needed.