Council moves to dampen fire fears

IT MIGHT be a picturesque native reserve where a number of endangered plants grow, but to the residents surrounding the Everest Rd Reserve it is a tinderbox and disaster waiting to happen.

Yesterday the Southern Downs Regional Council voted to clear two new fire breaks through the reserve.

However Everest Rd resident Ron Simon said the fire breaks wouldn't fix the issue.

"They are a start but a lot more needs to be done," he said.

"There are canopies that go into private land and a rabbit problem that needs to be dealt with. If those things are fixed I think most of the residents here would be happy."

Mr Simon said when he moved into his home two years ago the reserve was not like it was now.

"It has not been managed properly, when we first moved in horses were grazing in the area and keeping the undergrowth under control," he said.

"They were moved by the SGAP (Society for Growing Australian Plants), and since then the undergrowth is beyond a state, which is acceptable."

The issue of the overgrown reserve was first raised by Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley in a general council meeting in September.

After a consultation with the Warwick rural fire service, the council voted during this month's general meeting to clear two new fire breaks.

A move greatly supported by Warwick area group officer Alan Payne.

"The fire breaks will make it easier for us to get in there in the event of a fire and be able to do something," Mr Payne said.

"It means the council water trucks will also be able to fit in there."

Mr Payne said the purpose of the reserve, which is to maintain and grow endangered plants, made it hard to do a controlled burn-off as this had the potential to damage the plant life.

"The uniqueness of it makes it hard to do a fire management plan," he said.

"Residents around the reserve need to do their bit and make sure the gutters are clean and there is no rubbish lying around the yard.

"Everyone has to play their part."

Cr Bartley was pleased to see the fire breaks approved yesterday.

"It is just about better management and making sure the people who live near it are safe," Cr Bartley said.

"It is about keeping the fuel load at a manageable level."

However, like Mr Simon, Cr Bartley said fire breaks might not be enough to get the job done.

During yesterday's meetings Cr Bartley managed to gain the support of his fellow councillors to have the possibility of crash grazing introduced in the reserve.

Using the recent fires in New South Wales as an example Cr Bartley said fire breaks did not always work.

"The Hume Hwy could not even act as a fire break," he said.

Mr Payne said Tuesday night's rain had helped reduce the region's fire threat.

However he said places such as Millmerran, which did not get much rain, were still high risk areas.

"I am actually working on sending crews to Millmerran to help fight a fire at the moment," he said.

"We are hoping to have it under control by (last night).

"But it will need to be monitored for a few days."

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