DAMAGING: A bushfire that also burnt paddocks of cane rages along the Bruce Highway near Balberra south of Mackay.
DAMAGING: A bushfire that also burnt paddocks of cane rages along the Bruce Highway near Balberra south of Mackay. Stuart Quinn

Firies under the pump as season flares up in Mackay

MACKAY residents should finalise bushfire plans now, firefighters have warned, after a busy start to the season that destroyed cane paddocks and shut highways.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Assistant Commissioner Steve Barber said several recent blazes, including one at Balberra on Thursday, had proved the potential for large fires in the region, and warned that heightened fire conditions could see the fire danger increase over the coming months.

"We are now entering what is traditionally the peak period for bushfires in Queensland," Mr Barber said.

"Throughout this weekend and into the early part of next week, a very high fire danger is expected, and these sorts of conditions typically become more common and widespread through spring and into summer.

"By taking action to reduce fuel loads now, residents can minimise the risk to their homes, neighbours and communities down the track."

The Mackay region has been left tinder-box dry, with 2.2mm of rain in July and barely 1mm so far this month.

Rural Fire Services firefighters have been called out to 12 fires in Mackay this week.

RFS acting Mackay area director Michael Koch said these conditions are expected to last through Christmas.

"Especially the fires in the last few days... it shows that when fires do start they have the capacity to develop quite quickly unless they are contained," he said.

"If you had asked me on Monday, I would have said we seemed to not been getting as many fires.

"But lower humidity and winds means we've had a run of fires, so some of the brigades were quite pushed."

There are about 3000 volunteer rural firefighters in the Mackay region, which stretches from Proserpine to St Lawrence and out to Dysart. They operate from about 30 strategically placed sheds.

The fire danger rating is forecast to be 'very high' on Monday.



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