Islands on list of bushfire hotspots

BLAZE: A Rural Fire Service volunteer douses smouldering scrub in water at Russell Island. Photo: Hannah Baker
BLAZE: A Rural Fire Service volunteer douses smouldering scrub in water at Russell Island. Photo: Hannah Baker

RUSSELL and North Stradbroke islands have been listed by the state government as bushfire hotspots, as dry conditions threaten to bring an early start to the season.

About 50 areas across Queensland have been categorised as bushfire prone, with Fire Minister Craig Crawford warning residents to prepare.

“It is essential the community works with QFES and other local agencies now to identify areas of concern and remove potential threats,” he said.

Mr Crawford said firefighters had already responded to several fast-running grass fires at Boonah, the Lockyer Valley and Beaudesert. This was ahead of bushfire season, which usually begins in August.

Last year a Queensland Fire and Emergency Services report said Russell Island had excessive fuel loads.

The report also said island residents were worried about fuel loads on undeveloped blocks.

Rural Fire Service Superintendent Wayne Waltisbuhl said authorities were working to boost fire safety across the Southern Moreton Bay Islands. He encouraged property owners to contact RFS for help.

“QFES and council’s aim is to achieve large area of fuel reduction, be it by burning, mowing, slashing ... to create asset protection zones,” he said.

“This will assist in slowing the progress of wildfires and provide a safer place for firefighters to work and also move the flame zone away from properties.”

Mr Waltisbuhl said about half of Russell Island was made up of undeveloped blocks. Strategic reduction burns could be done across multiple blocks but not without landowner permission.

A Redland City Council spokesperson said council were sending compliance notices to owners of messy land, as per QFES recommendations to reduce the risk of wildfire. 

“If a property is identified as overgrown we issue a compliance notice that generally speaking, requires a property owner to slash, mow, brush cut, remove dead wood and appropriately dispose of objects, materials or vegetation removed from the land...,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said council had done 70 per cent of the 56 QFES report recommendations. 

“(This) has included Know Your Neighbour communication ... and an SMBI-wide clean-up campaign that has ranged from clean-up encouragement, extended tip hours and community education through to compliance actions and notification.”