Fire devastation causes community to plan
NOVEMBER 28, 2018 is a day many people living in Mount Larcom will never forget.
A fast-moving bushfire swept through the district, forcing the mass evacuation of most residents of the town.
On Saturday afternoon community members, emergency services and council representatives met at the Mount Larcom Community Hall to share and collect feedback on what needs to be done to prevent such fires in the future and what lessons were learned.
Gladstone region mayor Matt Burnett said some of the feedback would help council shape its submission to the Queensland Government Bushfire Review recommending changes to the Fire Act which has been in place since 1946.
Councillor Burnett said before the next fire season he wants more hazard reduction burns at a local level.
One issue raised by many was that of clearing overgrown grass from state, federal and local government land.
Residents gave examples of where tall grass along roads, highways, rail corridors and in state forests and national parks provided fuel for the fires.
Boyne Valley resident and rural firefighter Mark McLachlan said it was time to change burn-off laws.
He said it was "almost impossible" to get a permit to burn government land.
"You go and have a look at the regrowth around Builyan and in parts it's horrendous," he said.
"A quarter of the Boyne Valley is forestry or national park and until there is a fire emergency, we can't do anything on that land."
Mr McLachlan, who has made a submission to the bushfire review, said the commissioner should have the authority to decide whether an area is a hazard and whether a reduction burn needs to take place, regardless of who owns the land.
Others raised the need for improved communications between the various groups of emergency services, including better radio communications.
Officials also shared their frustrations regarding some people's refusal to evacuate their properties or waiting until the last moment to leave as flames approached.
The next meetings will be held on Saturday at Agnes Water Community Centre 9.15am-12.20pm and Wartburg Sport and Recreation Ground from 1.45-5pm.