Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) is reminding north Queensland residents to be proactive in preparing their properties ahead of bushfire season, with high vegetation growth creating bushfire hazards across the region. 

Rural Fire Service (RFS) Regional Manager Tony Hazell said North Queenslanders saw last year how devastating bushfires could be. 

“Last year QFES crews in the Townsville area attended close to 200 bushfires, an increase of more than 40 per cent on the year before,” he said. 

“Bluewater was one of the towns affected by this very severe fire season, with bushfires tearing through approximately 17,000 hectares of land, threatening properties and lives. 

“Don’t be mistaken, the flooding has compounded the bushfire risk in this region by creating an abundance of fresh vegetation growth.

“At this time of year, with less humid conditions, it doesn’t take long for vegetation to dry out and effectively become a tinderbox.”

Mr Hazell said all residents, regardless of whether they live on an urban or rural property, could take simple steps to mitigate their bushfire risk.

“QFES has already started preparing for bushfire season by conducting a number of hazard reduction burns across the region,” he said. 

“It’s important residents remember it is their own responsibility to ensure their property is properly prepared – if you own the fuel, you own the fire. 

“If you live in a built-up area take some time to clean your gutters and ensure there isn’t excess rubbish or debris in your yard.

“Rural property owners should ensure firebreaks are in place, their property number is visible and access is clear in case our trucks need to get onto the property to fight a fire.”

Mr Hazell said everyone should also be familiarising themselves with bushfire warning levels. 

“These messages are sent out to the community and include vital information like where a fire is located, whether any properties are under threat and what actions you need to take to keep yourself safe,” he said. 

More information on bushfire warning levels and bushfire season preparations can be found at www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au.