Viv Pengelly is concerned about fires caused by back burning.
Viv Pengelly is concerned about fires caused by back burning. Christopher Chan

Calliope farmer has hit out at locals who lit latest fires

CALLIOPE farmer Viv Pengelly has lashed out over irresponsible back-burning, saying it is just a matter of time before tragedy struck.

Fire has threatened his Racecourse Rd property over the past few days, and Mr Pengelly has been busy cutting firebreaks into his land in anticipation of more flare-ups.

"Someone lit up, but it's tinder dry out here so they shouldn't have been given a permit if they were," he said.

Mr Pengelly said he had dodged a bullet beating the fire on Monday, as the blaze had not reignited as yet.

"It gets out of control and the authorities let it go because there's no homes nearby, so it gets over the mountain and once the wind picks it up it heads down to our place, jumps Taragoola Rd and the railway line and just keeps going," he said.

"If people keep doing what they're doing, we're going to lose lives out here."

A Calliope property ravaged by fire.
A Calliope property ravaged by fire. Christopher Chan

A Gladstone Fire and Rescue Service spokesman urged rural and residential property owners to liaise with their local chief fire warden before lighting any fires.

"It all depends on the conditions, whatever the area, it's best for people to speak to the chief warden so he can assess the safety issues," the spokesman said.

Mr Pengelly said it was his opinion that those lighting fires should be held responsible for damages caused if the blaze got out of control.

"Half of them shouldn't get a permit - it's too bloody dry, and anyone who gives these permits out at the moment should be locked up with them as far as I'm concerned, people need to think very, very carefully before lighting a fire," he said.

"I've got a couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of cattle, as does my neighbour. It's not cheap what we're talking about, and I won't hesitate to sue if we lose out from these fires."

Obtaining a fire permit:

  • Applications for a Permit to Light a Fire must be made through your local warden
  • Wardens may refuse permits if safety measures can't be met
  • Some fires do not require a permit eg. less than 2m, BBQs etc, depending on the fire danger periods
  • Fire lighters must contact council to see if fires are permitted, and obtain written permission if necessary
  • Contact owners/occupiers of land adjacent to the property at least 72 hours before the intended fire to allow time to contact the warden
  • Local chief fire warden must be contacted to submit the final application
Viv Pengelly is concerned about fires caused by back burning. He said he won't hesitate to sue if he loses livestock from purposely-lit fires.
Viv Pengelly is concerned about fires caused by back burning. He said he won't hesitate to sue if he loses livestock from purposely-lit fires. Christopher Chan