Men fined for starting Fraser Island bushfire

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Fraser island bushfire
The bushfire tore through much of Fraser Island. PIC: ABC / Chris Gillette

The two men who accidentally started a bushfire that ended up burning through half of World Heritage-listed Fraser Island have been fined.

Liam Cheshire pleaded guilty in the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court to two charges including unlawfully lighting a fire on October 14. Dominic McGahn, also pleaded guilty to one charge of unlawfully lighting a fire.

The ABC reports that two other men, Lachlan Brown, 21, and Travis Lowe, 23, had their cases adjourned until next month.

Acting Sergeant Sonia Edwards told the court Cheshire lit the fire before the campers sat around talking.

“He gathered sticks and other vegetation from nearby areas and used that to keep the fire burning,” Acting Sergeant Edwards said. “The fire died down, he placed sand over it and then the party left very early the next day.”

However, the fire was not adequately extinguished and the fire, which started in mid-October, eventually burned for two months and swept through more than 87,000 hectares of land.

The ABC reports that Liam Cheshire was fined $1,334 with no conviction recorded. Dominic McGahn was fined $667.

In sentencing, Magistrate Stephen Guttridge said the men displayed ‘genuine remorse’.

“It wasn’t a case of arson,” he said. “It was lighting a fire.”

In a letter read to the court by Magistrate Stephen Guttridge, Cheshire apologised for his actions.

“I know I have been totally irresponsible and I am deeply sorry,” he said. “I wish I could have the opportunity to reverse my decision to light the fire … it was a great mistake on my part that I will have to live with.”

  • Have you ever left a campsite and then worried yourself to death that you might not have extinguished a campfire properly? Comment below.
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5 Responses to Men fined for starting Fraser Island bushfire

  1. It is unbelievable that Qld National Parks let the fire go for two months. Someone must have noticed the developing fire before it was out of control.p and put it out.

    • The Qld National Parks took 6 weeks before asking for assistance from Qld Fire Service and then wouldn’t allow them access to water because of ‘cultural’ and biosecurity reasons.

      They also banned media access to the island to prevent them from talking to the locals. It took 6 weeks before they were allowed to water bomb whilst the equipment and manpower stood idle.

      The Old govmint just shrugged their shoulders when questioned about it and said it was in the hands of ‘experts’.

  2. Small penalty for such a big irresponsible mistake.

    • I agree, however if you look at my previous comment it shows that it wouldn’t have become such a disaster if they would have addressed the problem immediately. It’s either total incompetence or political.

    • I totally agree Jeanette, I guess it is more than likely a case of having good legal representation assisting with the “composing” of the letter of apology.

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