DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN: Butchulla elder Glenn Miller wants to see a return to traditional indigenous fire management practices to avoid the fast spread of fire.
DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN: Butchulla elder Glenn Miller wants to see a return to traditional indigenous fire management practices to avoid the fast spread of fire. John McCutcheon

'Bomb waiting to go off': Grim warning for Fraser Coast scrub

IF YOU ask Glenn Miller, the overgrown patch of land at the end of his street is a bomb waiting to go off.

He can't remember the last time the Bryant St, Pialba block was burnt off.

Now, as devastating bushfires ravage Queensland and authorities warn Fraser Coast residents to prepare for the worst, the Butchulla Elder says it could all have been avoided.

"In the old days, our people burnt off regularly and didn't let the fuel build up in the bush," Mr Miller said.

"Now, because people build house and there's infrastructure everywhere, they don't burn off.

"There's so much fuel in the bush, when it goes up, it goes off like a bomb."

Mr Miller said adopting traditional, indigenous practices of burning off in the cooler months and managing the land pro-actively would help avoid catastrophic bushfire events.

"Today, the emphasis is only on fire fighting. In our old days, it was fire management and fire use," he said.

"We're trying to bring back traditional burning practices, but that's only on public land.

"The problem is, most of it's privately-owned land, and we're not going to be consulted about how to manage privately-owned land."

Mr Miller said the current controlled burn approach was not working.

"When you've got a program of only burning off every five to eight years, you've got five to eight years worth of fuel in there, so it can get out of control," he said.

Tony Johnstone, Acting Assistance Commissioner for Queensland Rural Fire Service, said there were different cycles of burning off for different reasons.

He said there was a "fine balance" when it came to traditional burning practices and weather conditions, vegetation and run-off needed to be taken into consideration.

"Regular burning off can introduce new types of weed species which introduces new problems," Mr Johnstone said.

He said the "excessively" dry and hot conditions, as well as a lack of rain over winter needed to be carefully considered.

"If we're talking about hazard reduction burns, wind is a big thing.

"If it's scorched, it takes a long time for things to come back."

Mr Johnstone said population density and medical conditions such as asthma also needed to be taken into consideration.



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