QFES Superintendent James Haig. He is the incident controller for the Fraser Island fire. Photo: Contributed
QFES Superintendent James Haig. He is the incident controller for the Fraser Island fire. Photo: Contributed

EXPLAINED: Why island fire response is in new hands

A MONSTER fire had been burning on Fraser Island for nearly six weeks before the state’s top firefighters were called in to take control from Quensland Parks and Wildlife.

Since arriving on Friday to take command of firefighting efforts, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Superintendent James Haig has been working around the clock.

He is incident controller for the fire and is co-ordinating the response from the Rainbow Beach incident control centre.

Asked about why the State Government finally handed control of the fire to QFES, Supt Haig said “my understanding is because of the escalating potential for impact upon built assets”.

“When it starts to have more impact such as Kingfisher Bay, that’s what I believe was one of the triggers,” Mr Haig said.

“Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service often manage fires that are on their lands.

“We had rangers do testing of soil in a couple of places to confirm what the soil moisture was like and it is exceptionally dry.

“That means the vegetation will rapidly be available for the fire.”

When asked where computer modelling had predicted the fire to spread to, Mr Haig said this was “updated all the time and we get slight nuances in the weather and fuel”.

“We’ve run 10, 20, 30 simulations to date on these various fire fronts … what we do know is the weather is going to be significantly northerly, so the general trend of the fire will be south,” he said.

“They’re very complex models … we test all of our options against that modelling to see if we’re going to be successful.”