Grass fires could top Qld bushfire risk this summer

Hazard reduction burns underway but dry grass is Qld bushfire threat

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Rural firefighters in the Buderim region are among those that have been conducting cool burns over winter. Picture: QFES

Rural firefighters in the Buderim region are among those that have been conducting cool burns over winter. Picture: QFES

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Fast-running grass fires might be the main threat for rural firefighters this season, according to Tony Johnstone, the director of regional coordination for the Rural Fire Service, based in Brisbane.

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Fast-running grass fires might be the main threat for rural firefighters this season, according to Tony Johnstone, the director of regional coordination for the Rural Fire Service, based in Brisbane.

While conditions for bushfires vary greatly across the state, depending on winter rain and ongoing drought conditions, Mr Johnstone said the weather outlook gave firefighters hope for a quieter bushfire season ahead than the forest fire infernos experienced over the 2019-2020 summer.

"Through winter there was a pattern of showers, then a bit of warmth, that has resulted in a lot of grass in some areas," he said.

"Queensland's a big state and very diverse though.

"Around Cooktown it's still quite green, but as you move out to Quilpie, grass is starting to cure.

"Then to the east, at Bundaberg, it's green along the coast but it wouldn't take long for it to dry out."

As advised through weekly conversations with his seven regional managers, rural brigades and property owners have been taking advantage of better conditions to undertake a lot of hazard reduction burns through winter.

"People have been looking at reducing fuel loads for a while but things like COVID, the weather, the amount of feed available, haven't made that possible until now," Mr Johnstone said.

"There's still moisture in the ground, and the Bureau of Meteorology is talking of an average rain outlook this spring. Hopefully no-one will be fighting fires on Christmas Day this year."

Rural Fire Brigade Association of Queensland general manager Justin Choveaux said he was looking forward to early rain.

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