July 10th 2009
Illegal camping leads to fire
Horseshoe Bay avoided a dangerous fire last weekend after a camp fire, which got out of control and burned out a 50 x 50 metre of beach foreshore, was brought under control by the Horseshoe Bay Rural Fire Brigade assisted by Island rangers.
The fire, which occurred about 500 metres west of the boat ramp, is alledged to have been started by illegal campers and was reported to the police by people on a yacht in Horseshoe Bay.
It burned out an area of she-oak and cheese fruit vegetation on Horseshoe Bay's foreshore and, according to Queesland Parks and Wildlife Sevice, Conservation Officer, Jo Peterson, the fire brigade removed a small dome tent from the burn area. It was evident that a camp fire had escaped.
Jo Peterson told Magnetic Times, “It was very irresponsible of these people to have a camp fire in the dunes amongst the she-oaks. There is a heavy fuel load in the this area and the fire could easily travel.
“The fire was not properly contained before it was left unattended.
“The fire danger is very high at the moment with the dry SW windy conditions and campfires should be avoided.”
The dome tent from the illegal camp
Beach fires are particularly dangerous on Magnetic Island as they are often being fuelled by strong onshore winds which can quickly drive them inland.
Constable Ben Costello from the MI Police told Magnetic Times, “ A tourist was issued a notice to appear for lighting an unauthorised fire and to appear at a later date. There was no property damage.
According to Constable Costello, “The maximum penalty for the charge would be $3500 or 6 months prison however the actual penalty would be at the Magistrate’s discretion based on the individual facts”.
Constable Costello went on the explain that, for the MI Police, “There are no specific police powers in relation to camping. Controlling camping is not a core responsibility of the QPS. Other government agencies are responsible and, if requested, we are able to assist as we have done previously. My experience from the Gold Coast in the past is that occasionally police would be tasked on special duties to assist council officers for a shift."
Photos courtesy QPWS
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