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Fire scars Fraser Island

IT HAS been labelled a catastrophe; the southern end of Fraser Island reduced to a haunting landscape of charred trees.

Skeletons of acacias and casuarinas stand on white sand dunes stripped bare.

Hervey Bay resident Joanne McKay is blaming a planned burn that got out of control but the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service says it the fire was not part of its burning program and does not know how the out-of-control wildfire started.

Ms McKay spent two-and-a-half years living on Fraser Island and five working as a 4WD tour guide.

She was on the island last week and said sand dunes had been left exposed without any stabilising vegetation, a dingo den had been destroyed and acacias and casuarinas had been burned.

Ms McKay agreed planned burns were needed to stimulate Australia's flora but said they should not “cook” the environment like the recent fire.

“We need controlled burns but only where flames go a metre up tree trunks.

“This one has taken out the whole canopy.”

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service regional manager Rob Allan, however, said planned burns for Fraser Island finished in August and what Ms McKay was referring to was a wildfire at Figtree which started on Tuesday, September 22.

He said it was not known how the fire began and that it was still burning, although contained.

“So far it has burnt approximately 22,000 hectares covering the area south of Dillingham's Road to Hook Point,” Mr Allan said.

The Department of Environment and Resource Management was aware ash covered parts of the island and trees had been charred.

“This is a result of rangers successfully containing a wildfire which started at the end of September,” Mr Allan said.

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