Thursday, November 2, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
With hot and dry weather conditions headed our way, a total fire ban has been established in the Mackay region. Queensland have been recently inundated with rural bushfires, with another occurring on our doorstep.
Sharon Black, a landowner on Rutlands Road in Kuttabul, has had over ninety percent of her property burnt by what she said started as a small backyard fire four properties away.
With a permit for Hazard and Debris Removal the week before the incident, Ms Black completed a successful burn of a few acres around her hill to protect her house pad.
This was the last burn she permitted, noticing the changing weather conditions.
In short, the days leading up to the catastrophe, the weather was not in favour of any small fires to be left unattended.
On 24th October at 11am, Ms Black received calls from her neighbours urging her to secure her horses as there was a bushfire heading towards her property.
It is speculated that the fire started from an unattended rubbish burn off, which jumped to the surrounding bushland. Ms Black said that eight properties were compromised as a result of the incident.
Now with fallen trees across fence lines and no food for their horses or assistance to feed them, the situation is still ongoing with small fires happening up to five days after the initial incident.
Ms Black is fed up with what she described as “complacent neighbours who have not prepared themselves for rural bushfire season,” in turn allowing destruction across the street to wipe out vegetation on her land.
She stated that neighbours have repeatedly ignored fire safety warnings and disregarded preventative measures to safeguard properties, leading to an unnecessary bushfire.
The Rural Fire Service stated that although rural fire preparation is vital, homeowners are not legally obligated to adhere to precautions.
This fact has left the community weary that another bushfire could be imminent.
“It led to our direct neighbour being without a shed.
“It blew up the day after as they left their property unattended and the fire crept to it igniting what we have been told was old ammunition.” Ms Black stated.
Sharon is trying to start a build in accordance with all new building codes due to her house site location, yet existing properties in neighbouring areas are not regulated. Concerns have been raised that carelessness could impact their properties' livelihood directly for a second time.
“It’s up to the home owner to maintain their property, making sure it still complies or their insurance is compromised.
“However, older homes in such locations are not aware of new changes and therefore are not only at higher risk of insurance claims, but increase the risk of neighbours losing their livelihood through no fault of their own,” She said.
Ms Black and her partner have worked hard to install fire breaks and commit to burn-offs in segments of their property block to avoid and reduce danger, as well as aid rural fire staff in conditions like Tuesday’s event.
Through follow-up monitoring, the pair saved two vehicles that were only metres from being burnt out due to an outbreak on the following Wednesday.
“Should the same action had been done, next door would not have had their shed explode,” she said.
“Insurance companies should not have to pay for people’s ignorance, this is why our prices are so high.
“To be such forward planning, prevention-minded people, it feels in vain if our neighbours are the opposite.
“I’m very angry that our neighbours along Yakapari-Seaforth Rd ignored such advice.” She stated.
Ms Black would like to see people who are prepared for these disasters be rewarded with cheaper insurance premiums.
Residents are always encouraged to follow fire safety protocols in the lead up to bushfire season, you can find more information to stay alert and prepared at www.qfes.qld.gov.au or www.mackay.qld.gov.au