December 15th 2006
Dangerous campfire at Balding
Although we have enjoyed a few showers of late, until heavy wet season rain falls, this is the hottest driest and most bushfire-prone time of year on Magnetic Island. It was, then, disappointing to learn that a large beach campfire had been lit at Balding Bay recently.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger in Charge on Magnetic, Patrick Centurino, discovered the remains of the fire the following day and even though it had been covered in sand, after 18 to 20 hours, the fire was, according to Patrick, "Still hot enough to melt glass"
"As far as I can ascertain glass melts at between 500 and 1500 degrees Celsius. A glass bottle which had been thrown into the fire was deformed and soft.
"Imagine the feet of a child inadvertently stepping on it. It took me 30 minutes to put the fire out by dispersing the sand and throwing dozens of buckets of water on it.
"A beach fire which has been covered up with sand in an attempt to put it out is near invisible. In fact the sand will keep the temperature hotter and for a longer time than if it had been left uncovered.
"However, letting it burn out whilst not attended could start a wildfire.
"At this time of the year, turtles nest on beaches, turtles may be intimidated by fires and not nest; or a fire could inadvertently be started on a turtle nest with adverse consequences for the hatchlings.
"It is prohibited to do so and people may be prosecuted for doing so.
"If a cinder escapes and burns the hills from the bottom up, which is very likely at this time of year, it would create a high intensity scorch that may not benefit the vegetation.
"Fire fighters would have to risk their lives to protect houses and people; most of them are volunteers and wouldn''t be able to earn a living whilst fighting the fire.
"The laws and guidelines are in place to help us look after our environment not to prevent people from having fun. Be responsible, abide by signs and pictograms displayed throughout the park and around the island," said Patrick Centurino.
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