Grim fire warnings prove to be deadly

LAST Friday, black Friday in the Gold Coast hinterland gave promise of a bushfire season which could be even more devastating than fire officers have been predicting for months.

Wongawallen, Gaven, Lower Beechmont, Austinville, Neranwood, the hinterland awoke last weekend to a cloud of smoke.

At the time of writing a fire on the western slopes of the Hinze Dam was still active.

Austinville resident Petra Hinze said the sound of fire as trees in the dead forest ignited was frightening.

Her mother-in-law Ann Dodd's home was nearly lost when sparks set fire to the roof - firefighters were there on time - just.

Nearby, a shed packed with valuable equipment owned by champion axeman Barry Hinze, went up in smoke.

Cr Ted Shepherd said the Austinville fire was controlled four times, and four times it broke out as fierce wind gusts sent flames into bushland.

He said the hinterland community could expect and must prepare for a very serious bushfire season. It had begun even before summer.

"The main reason for house losses in these situations is roof gutters filled with dry leaves and twigs, and recent winds could see gutters cleaned out recently, again filled with leaves. This season we are confronting another problem, bush and forest with more dead trees than we have seen before. Drought has caused fire fuel in forests and bush alongside main roads, a match or a cigarette butt thrown from a car - and it could go up in smoke," Cr Shepherd said.

He expressed concern that strong moves by a number of environmentalists had prevented council from going into potential bushfire hazard spots and clearing wide fire breaks.

It was a case that council was damned if it did more in with firebreak machinery, and damned if it did not.

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