Despite the predicted La Nina, hot and dry conditions in central Queensland have increased the fire danger and extended the fire season into March, while disappointed graziers are hoping for more rain.
- Rural Fire Service Queensland says central Queensland’s fire season has been extended until at least March, when it typically ends in January
- Record-breaking February heat records have been recorded in parts of Capricornia
- Grazier Mick Alexander says he’s had “no wet season at all”
Regional Manager of Rural Fire Service Queensland Brian Smith said the fire season would continue until there was significant rainfall.
“Normally our fire season is late December, early January, and we usually get those monsoon rains and potential cyclones coming down the coast and the low, but we haven’t seen that at this time,” Mr Smith said.
“That’s extended our fire season into late February, early March.”
Mr Smith said he had seen a number of fires around the region, including four fires in Rockhampton on Monday requiring “a number of resources”.
“Given the hot conditions — even without the strong winds — we still had some winds in that area that did allow those fires to generate and develop quite quickly given the dry conditions and fuel loading.”
Up to 20 primary producer brigades, as well as two aircraft offering aerial support, also attended a fire in Springsure yesterday, which Mr Smith said burnt out a significant area of the Staircase Range.
Mr Smith said the increased fire risk in the central region had been identified as a national risk, and the duration of the fire season was putting pressure on staff and volunteers.
“Particularly when we get into those 40 degree temperatures. It’s not just about managing the fires, it’s about managing their safety, the fatigue and the heat-related illnesses as well.”
Cattle grazier Mick Alexander said he had 36 millimetres of rain on his property yesterday, which was the most significant rain he’s had for the wet season.
“Summer’s nearly over and we haven’t had any grass growing rain for the whole season, so it’s very welcomed,” Mr Alexander said.
“The Bureau’s telling us that we’re going to have a good wet season, but we’ve had no wet season at all,” he said.
Mr Alexander said the record-breaking February heat turned his pasture “yellow”.
“We’re pretty desperate. I’d say a lot of people around if they haven’t got irrigation, they’d be looking at de-stocking in our area.”