QFRS Gladstone Fire Station firefighter John Lanzon.
QFRS Gladstone Fire Station firefighter John Lanzon. Sarah Steger

'Perfect storm': Conditions mark the start of bushfire season

THE bushfire season may have officially started on August 1, but the date alone is not a true indication of the increased number of fires expected at this time of year.

Gladstone Fire Station officer Simon Pearson yesterday told The Observer the start of the bushfire season was actually marked by distinct weather patterns making the likelihood of bushfires greater.

"A week ago there was an increase in the number of fires and we can put that down to low rain, high temperatures for this time of year and low humidity," he said.

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QFRS officer Pearson said among the grass fires seen most recently, three of them burned near Red Rover Rd, Agnes Water and Raglan.

"There's no real rhyme or reason for how many fires we see in one day or week, unless you've got someone running around lighting them, which happens from time to time," he said.

Though the season has officially started and fireys are preparing for the onslaught, in the past three years the number of Gladstone has decreased.

 

Queensland Rural Fire Service fire truck outside the QFES Gladstone Area Office.
Queensland Rural Fire Service fire truck outside the QFES Gladstone Area Office. Sarah Steger

From 2014-2015 QFES recorded a total of 216 total landscape fires in Gladstone's surrounding areas and farmland compared to the 154 recorded in 2016-2017.

Following a similar pattern was the number of bushfires directly in Gladstone, with 131 incidents between August 2014 and March 2015 and only 111 in 2016-2017.

"They've been doing more hazard reduction in the off season so the drop is definitely noticeable to us," officer Pearson said.

Of the same mind was Acting Inspector of the Gladstone Rural Fire Service Chris Artiemiew.

"It's probably the same as last year, where we start to see an increase in fires with the change in season ... grass is drying out making it easy to light by any amount of sparks, but the proactive approach has been paying off," he said.

Act Insp Artiemiew said more back-burning in the off-season as well as educating the public on what fires are capable are reasons for the gradual drop in bushfire instances in and around Gladstone.