Army reveals it may have started fire
A SENIOR Australian Defence Force officer has revealed a fire burning in the Gold Coast hinterland may have started during army training.
Lower Beechmont Rural Fire Brigade has released a statement sent to firefighters by Colonel Arran Hassell, of the army's Kokoda Barracks near Canungra.
Col Hassell said personnel had been "fighting and managing the fire that many of you can see from your homes" on army property near Lower Beechmont.
The fire is separate to the bushfires that destroyed 10 homes when they swept through the hinterland in September.
"We have not formally investigated the cause of the fire, but I am conscious that we had an army unit conducting training in the east of the training area the week when the fire started," he said.
"As a part of their training a small fire was started, burnt out an area of 3m x 3m, but we believed we had extinguished it.
"It is entirely possible that this fire reignited on Sunday, October 27, and has led to the current fire.
"Please know that this fire was not a part of our hazard reduction burn program - we finished our back-burning regime in winter.
Col Hassell was concerned about the effects of the fire on the hinterland community.
"My team and I have been focused on working with QFES (Queensland Fire and Emergency Services) and QRFS (Queensland Rural Fire Service) attempting to extinguish the fire and protect the Lower Beechmont community," he said.
"We want to stop the fire from leaving Defence land.
"Your safety has been my greatest concern for the last week and a half."
Defence had a small contingent of firefighters assisting the RFS.
"My team and I will keep working with QFES, the Lower Beechmont RFS, and local families who have let us on to their land, until this fire is extinguished," Col Hassell said.
The brigade took to Facebook to inform the public and address " speculation within the community regarding how the recent fires in the Defence land started".
"The fact that we have not had a serious bushfire incident for over 10 years is partly due to good fortune but also testament to the responsible fire risk management practices of our neighbours," the post read.
The brigade said it would work with Defence to improve co-operation and protect the community.