Two of four charged over Fraser Island bushfire plead guilty, fined
Two of the four young men charged over an illegal campfire not properly extinguished, which started the bushfire that scorched more than half of Fraser Island, have pleaded guilty.
All four accused, aged between 21 and 24, were ordered before Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on Thursday, where two of them were fined for their action and the other two had their cases adjourned.
Liam Gregory Cheshire – charged with one count each of unlawfully lighting a fire and leaving a fire unattended – pleaded guilty, was fined $667 for each offence, and had no conviction recorded.
Dominic Glynn Mcgahan – charged with one count of unlawfully lighting a fire – also pleaded guilty, was fined $667 and had no conviction recorded.
Lachlan James Brown – charged with one count of unlawfully lighting a fire – had his matter adjourned to February 11 for a mention and he remains free in the community.
Travis Robert Lowe – charged with one count of unlawfully lighting a fire – also had his matter adjourned to February 11 for a mention and he remains free in the community.
Police allege a 17-year-old boy was also involved, but he has not been officially charged because of his age. Instead, he is being dealt with under the Youth Justice Act.
Fraser Island, situated about 250 kilometres north of Brisbane, is World Heritage-listed and the world’s largest sand island.
Authorities estimate the fire burnt through 87,000 hectares of the island, led to mass evacuations of residents and threatened homes, coming within metres of the community of Happy Valley.
It will be alleged on October 14, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers on Fraser Island (K’Gari) found an illegal campfire within the Duling Camp Zone of Eastern Beach.
Rangers said the fire was covered in sand but still radiating heat and as a result, vegetation nearby had caught alight and started a bushfire to the north-west of the campsite.
The bushfire took hold and over the following weeks burned extensive parts of the world heritage-listed island.
According to Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, campfires are not allowed on Fraser Island except in the communal fire rings provided by the service at Dundubara main and Dundubara group camping areas, and Waddy Point camping areas (top and beachfront).