The Department of Transport and Main Roads has confirmed it will perform wet season burns along the Barkly Highway between Mount Isa and Cloncurry to reduce vegetation fuel loads.
This includes the implementation of a post wet-season prescribed burning program for the Barkly Highway between Cloncurry and Mount Isa, vegetation clearing program for the Barkly Highway and development of prioritised prescribed burning program for state-controlled roads within the North West District.
It also included data capture of pre and post wet season fuel load and to promote applications for back burning, grading of fire breaks within private property and stock grazing permits to reduce the fuel load.
North West Rural Fire Service area manager Shane Hopton said the increased mitigation from TMR was welcomed news for the Mount Isa region.
"We had a meeting the other day and (TMR) were looking at different strategies, whether that be burning, clearing, whatever activity is suitable for that location... I am also aware that they have a million kilometres of highway and about ten dollars to do it," Mr Hopton said.
"We don't know when we'll have an unprecedented fire season... so any mitigation on those high traffic areas, high risk areas is good mitigation."
Mr Hopton said reduced fuel loads on the highway corridor could have "potentially" made a difference to the fire east of Mount Isa.
"Would it have made a difference if there was no grass where we had that fire start off the road? Potentially, but if that bearing that caused the fire had bounced through TMR corridor onto the landholders the mitigation strategy would have been irrelevant," he said.
"They go hand in hand, you can't have TMR doing mitigation strategy and landholders not, and vice versa, we are very fortunate out here we have a lot of landholders have breaks inside their fence that are quite significant."
Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said they had increased funding to the fire risk management program for the state-controlled road (SCR) corridor over the last four years.
"TMR has an obligation under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 to manage bushfire risk in the SCR corridor," the spokesperson said.
"To manage this risk, TMR carries out bushfire fuel mitigation activities in the SCR corridor. These activities include slashing and mowing, trimming and pruning, installing firebreaks, weed management, grazing, and arranging hazard reduction burns. These activities are carried out throughout the year where conditions and resources permit.
"Priority areas of the SCR for bushfire fuel mitigation activities are identified through TMRs bushfire risk assessment process, as well as through external sources, including QFES and adjacent landholders. Adjoining landholders are able to carry out bushfire fuel mitigation activities in the SCR where they have collaborated with, and TMR has authorised through a Road Corridor Permit."
Mr Hopton said during his time in the north west, most fires had stemmed from highway corridors.
"The amount of traffic that travels through Camooweal to Mount Isa and Mount Isa towards the east coast is significant," he said.
"This highway is travelled by a lot of people everyday, and with that increased vehicle traffic we do see fire started from the road and whether that be rubbish, campers or mechanical failure like a flat tire or a wheel bearing, so we do se a lot of fire in this area start off corridors or from lightning strikes."
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