Australia — Queensland is facing one of its worst ever bushfire seasons, authorities have warned.
Monsoonal rains earlier this year have caused an explosion in grass and vegetation growth that is expected to provide plenty of fuel as it dries out. Add to the mix August’s traditional westerly winds and you have a dangerous combination, Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts said.
“The bushfire threat has been exacerbated this year,” Mr Roberts said.
“(The) risk could be serious and we don’t want to take any chances.”
Authorities are preparing to light more than 2000 fires across the state as part of a massive hazard reduction burn-off operation, overseen by the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.
QFRS Commissioner Lee Johnson said it was now a race against time to mitigate the bushfire risk.
By the end of August, the authority will have issued about 13,000 permits to light controlled fires.
“At the moment we are experiencing cooler weather, smaller winds and lower humidity which mean the risk of a fire getting out of control is relatively low,” Mr Johnson said.
“In these conditions it is a lot safer to work with the fire. To burn the land could pose a problem in spring.”
The downside for residents, however, will be hazy conditions for some time, but it was a necessary evil, Mr Johnson said.
“While the atmosphere may be a bit smoky for a while, the protection that residents will gain from hazard reduction burns will far outweigh the immediate discomfort.”
Residents are being asked to do their bit by clearing scrub and undergrowth from around their homes, keeping lawns and grassed areas trimmed and clearing firebreaks around properties in rural and rural fringe areas.
A permit is required for anyone who wants to light an open fire larger than two metres.