Spate of North Queensland house fires prompts warning to residents

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) is urging North Queensland residents to consider their home fire safety following a spate of destructive house fires across the region.

Fire and Rescue Service Chief Superintendent Michael O’Neil said Northern Region firefighters had responded to 18 structure fires since the beginning of May, including more than a dozen house fires.

“Our firefighters have responded to thirteen house fires in less than six weeks – eleven in the Townsville area, and two in the Mount Isa area,” Mr O’Neil.

“People are often surprised at how easily a fire can start in the home and how quickly it can spread, causing devastating consequences.

“Whilst our crews will always do everything possible to save lives and property, it is important that residents take preventative action to protect themselves, their family and their property from house fire hazards.”

Mr O’Neil said a large proportion of North Queensland house fires originated in the kitchen or cooking area.

“Last year, firefighters attended 140 house fires and nearly half of those started in the kitchen,” he said.

“Kitchen fires are commonly caused by unattended cooking or seemingly harmless appliances, such as microwaves, ovens and toasters.

“These fires are particularly dangerous as they can quickly spread to any grease or fat built up around the stove and rangehood, before spreading to the roof and throughout the home.

“Of course, kitchens aren’t the only house fire hazard. Overheated battery chargers, overloaded power points and faulty heating appliances are other common causes of house fires.”

Mr O’Neil said there were plenty of ways residents could minimise the risk of fire around the home.

“During a fire, residents only have a small window of time to safely escape, so it is critical that all Queensland properties are fitted with working smoke alarms,” he said.

“Interconnected photoelectric alarms are the most effective type at detecting a wide range of household fires, however all smoke alarms can only save lives if they are well maintained and in proper working condition.

“Remember to dust and vacuum smoke alarms regularly and test them once a month.”

Mr O’Neil also reminded residents to discuss their fire escape plan with their family.

“It can take only minutes for a room to become completely involved in fire. A quick escape is vital, so everyone needs to know what to do if a house fire does occur,” he said.

“Residents should discuss and practice their fire escape plan regularly with their family.

“If a house fire does occur, residents are urged to enact their fire escape plan, leave immediately and call Triple Zero (000) once they have safely exited the home.”

For more information about winter fire safety and to prepare your fire escape plan, visit https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/fireescape/

Northern Region residential fires by location since 1 May 2020:

  • Aitkenvale, Townsville Area (2 incidents)
  • Balgal Beach, Townsville Area
  • Bluewater Park, Townsville Area
  • Cluden, Townsville Area
  • Cranbrook, Townsville Area
  • Idalia, Townsville Area
  • Kelso, Townsville Area
  • Menzies, Mount Isa Area
  • Mount Louisa, Townsville Area
  • Thuringowa Central, Townsville Area
  • Townview, Mount Isa Area
  • West End, Townsville Area

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