Gregory River Fire, Isis Highway.
Gregory River Fire, Isis Highway.

Cigarette butts cause fires in Bundaberg region

BUNDABERG firefighters have asked all smokers to extinguish their cigarettes in water after their investigations found some of the region's recent devastating blazes were caused by dropped cigarette butts.

Exhausted firefighters are hoping for some relief over Christmas after spending six weeks battling fires across the region.

There have been days when more than 50 crews have been tasked with tackling the raging infernos.

Queensland Emergency Services relieving area commander for the Bundaberg region, Inspector Archie Andrews said they were asking smokers to not drop cigarette butts on the ground.

"Use a small container of water or an empty drink bottle partially filled and drop the cigarette butt in to make sure it's completely extinguished," Mr Andrews.

"We are asking people to not drop cigarette butts on the ground as our investigations found a couple of fires in Bundaberg were started by accidental activation from people dropping cigarettes.

"It is just general safety putting butts in water, it stops littering and it prevents accidental fires.

"There has been a number of entities who have lost assets in the last couple weeks, not just houses and sheds and vehicles but also pine plantations, grazing land and crops, it adds up to extensive damage."

Mr Andrews also asked local handymen to cease work that could cause a fire over the holiday period.

"We ask them to not do any hot works including welding, cutting and grinding because if they accidentally start a fire they're responsible and there is extended time involved to get crews out," he said.

"There is just not the same number of firefighters available, people are having well deserved time away on holidays with families, so we have a far reduced number of people on."

Mr Andrews said they were still working on the fires at Gregory River and Doughboy.

The fire at Gregory River started last Monday with up to 17 crews battling the blaze at a time, one home was lost on the first day of the blaze.

The Doughboy fire started on December 14 with up to 12 firetrucks on scene and is now well contained.

"At Doughboy we are just patrolling the perimeter, everything is well within containment lines and blacked out to a safe area, we are really happy with how it has gone," he said.

"At Gregory River, we are patrolling perimeters of 37 to 40km, there was 5000ha that was burnt.

"We are blackening out edges and hoping to release all crews from there at 6pm tonight and hand it back to local crews."

Mr Andrews commended the excellent co-operation between all emergency services, private enterprises like HQ Plantations, Bundaberg council, Rural Fire Services and State Emergency Services volunteers who have worked to mitigate and contain the fires.

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