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Wildfire Investigation

The cause behind August’s rampant, out of control, fire in the Bribie Island National Park has been revealed with the conclusion of the Department of Environment and Science (DES) investigation.

A spokesperson from DES has said “There were no planned burns conducted in the area in the days leading up to the wildfire outbreak.

“Three weeks previously, a planned burn was conducted by QPWS and HQ Plantations in the national park, in favourable, cool weather conditions.

“DES’s investigation has found the fire in August was most likely caused by peat deposits from the earlier planned burn, which continued to smoulder beneath the surface within a remote, swampy location.

“Due to adverse weather and wind conditions, which were unusual that early in the fire season, the peat layer reignited surface vegetation and the fire quickly spread. It was brought under control two days later.”

Good news is that along with the closing of the investigation into the fire’s cause, animals have been sighted returning to the National Park.

“Since the fire, rangers from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) have been observing animals, including various macropod species and reptiles, returning to the area that was burnt.” The DES spokesperson said.

“During and after the fire on Bribie Island, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers monitored the fire line and burnt ground for injured wildlife.

“QFES crews recovered one injured wallaby, which was passed to wildlife carers.

“DES appreciates the offers of assistance from wildlife carers, and thanks them for their support during and after the wildfire.

“During any fire, safety is paramount. Only fire-trained people in protective gear are permitted on active fire grounds until an area is declared safe. Risks include smoke inhalation, burning materials below the surface, and falling trees.

“For this reason, wildlife carers were not able to access the fire ground, due to concerns for their safety, until the fire zone was declared safe.”

The wildfire in the National Park on Bribie Island is one of many that has ravaged Queensland this year; there are still fires burning in rural Queensland.

In their statement the DES spokesperson said “This year, Queensland has experienced severe and extreme fire conditions early in the fire season, due to the impacts of climate change.

“This is why the Queensland Government allocated an extra $16 million over four years in this year’s Budget, and $2.6 million in funding annually to provide improved capability for bushfire management in our national parks and forests.”

Since the release of the investigation results Member for Pumicestone Simone Wilson MP has said the following "The Island’s ecosystem is fragile and smouldering peat fire from previous controlled burns presents a real risk to an Island community such as ours.

“Peat fires can burn for many months undetected and ultimately destroy ecosystems and wildlife as we saw in the August fire.

“I am most concerned about the Minister’s blasé approach to what has occurred. If this fire had reignited closer to residential areas on the island, then the rate of its spread and its intensity could have been catastrophic.

“We are highly vulnerable to bush fire on the Island with the only way out being a one lane bridge.

I want more answers from the Minister - we need to know what risk management strategies she will ensure are implemented so that this situation never happens again."

The fire burnt a total area of approximately 2400ha before being brought under control, and for an extended period after the fire camping grounds were closed off.

With wildlife now returning to the Bribie Island National Park hopefully another wildfire won’t occur this fire season.

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