A local politician is calling for a clearer way to report fires in the region, to help inform the community of when fires pose a threat.
The Member for Burnett has asked the Environment Minister to consider consolidating the reporting of fires, both planned and wildfire.
MP Stephen Bennett says smoke can concern residents if they don’t know where it’s coming from and if it’s a hazard reduction burn or a bush fire.
“The last few weeks have been very smoky, and residents are quite rightly concerned,” he says.
“It’s very difficult to find exactly where the smoke is coming from with each department logging separate information.
“My office has been inundated with calls from concerned locals who are either completely unaware of the planned burns or tried but failed to find the correct information.
“There needs to be one site that’s accessible by volunteer responders and the general public that’s updated by both Queensland Parks and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
“Our region knows all too well about the dangers of bushfires.
“We’ve lived through horrendous fires, but we also recovered.
“We know these control burns are essential but when your street is filled with smoke and you don’t know about the burns, it can be very scary.
“Being informed is our first form of defence which is why I look forward to working with the Minister to deliver a consolidated fire reporting system.”
Local resident Flora Wellington says last week’s smoke coverage was a wake-up call.
“The community needs to know where fires are and what their status is,” she says.
“Whether that fire starts from a national park, private land, controlled or a bush fire.
“When you see huge plumes of smoke coming towards you and you can’t find out whether the fire is an imminent or soon-to-be imminent danger, there is fear. It is a fear of the unknown.
“Right now, right here, north of Bundaberg, we have extremely high fuel loads for fire.
“We had a good season earlier so grass and weeds grew very well, now all that product is dry fuel for fires.
“As recipients of the smoke, ash, and fear, it is essential that community members know where fires are and whether they are under control or not.
“Right now, we cannot find that information.”