Megan Lewis

Downs firies relieve landowners

STRIKE teams arrived yesterday to relieve weary landowners battling to protect properties on the fringes of the Expedition Range, east of Rolleston, as a bushfire continued to ravage its way through thick, largely inaccessible forest reserve.

QFRS rural operations area director Larry Lewis said six light firefighting vehicles and crews arrived from the Toowoomba district to continue back-burning and containment operations on the fire, which was deliberately lit on the Dawson Highway road corridor on October 6.

“It doesn't matter how many resources we throw at this fire, the only thing that is going to put it out is rain,” Mr Lewis said.

“All we can do is monitor, control and back-burn, and put in containment lines.

“The fire did escape containment lines yesterday on Fairfield Station and burnt some pasture, and a homestead at Alice Camp was under threat at one stage, but I would guess at least 30,000 hectares has been burnt.

“It's such a harsh landscape, it's rugged country and you can't get in there and put the fire out because it's so inaccessible.

“We're looking at strategies to keep the fire contained in the reserve so neighbouring properties are safe.”

Mr Lewis said southerly winds were expected to provide some relief yesterday, but with no rain forecast, the struggle to contain the fire within the range was ongoing.

On Wednesday, about 30 rural fire brigade members, pastoralists, primary producers and national parks officers, fought the eastern front of the fire, while another dozen held lines to the west.

Fatigue was now an issue, Mr Lewis conceded.

“People are getting tired because this fire has been going for over a week, and some landowners have been out there day and night,” Mr Lewis said.

“That's why the strike team has arrived for four or five days because safety is paramount and people do get tired and we want them to get relief.”

Mr Lewis said rural brigades were also fighting a major wildfire northeast of Barcaldine in desert uplands country between Aramac and Jericho, while a blaze on the Alpha-Tambo Road that originated on Chesalon Station, was abating.

At least six fires had been deliberately lit late last week south of Emerald and between Springsure and Rolleston, he added.

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