UNFORTUNATE ENDING: This house in High Street was gutted in July last year.
UNFORTUNATE ENDING: This house in High Street was gutted in July last year. Ewan Leighton

Safety first this winter

THE kindling is ready, the wood is chopped and the matches have been lit but the dangers associated with heating during winter may not be at the forefront of many Granite Belt residents' minds after a long summer.

Four homes were gutted by fire across the Granite Belt last winter and Stanthorpe Fire Brigade chief Ian Barnden is hoping it will be quieter this season.

Mr Barnden said the first step for anyone with wood heating was to clean the chimney.

"They can have a fire in their chimney then it can spread to the roof of their house," Mr Barnden said.

"A lot of them (fires) around our area are chimney fires."

But it's not just wood heating that is a danger.

Residents with gas and electric heating also need to be vigilant.

"Also electric blankets, get them tested before you put them on your beds," Mr Barnden said.

He said residents tended to be complacent after a long summer and forgot about the simple dangers related to fire.

Despite the rain, grass was drying out and bushfires were also a danger.

"They (residents) do tend to be a bit complacent. Just do a few checks for your own safety," he said.

"If people are going to put their hot ashes out on the ground, if they put them into a metal container and wet them down a bit with the hose.

"If it's beside the house it could catch on fire as well."

Mr Barnden said a campaign was run at the start of April to raise awareness and get people to change their smoke alarms.

But he said if people hadn't checked their alarms they should do so straight away.

"If everyone just thinks before they act it reduces their risk," he said.

"I am hoping that we don't get as many structural fires as we did last year."

The fires and blankets will no doubt be in use across the Granite Belt for the next week at least as more rain is predicted to fall across the region.

Temperatures aren't dropping as low overnight but they will struggle to get over 20 as the cloud cover hangs around through the weekend.

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