13 January 2020

Police label burnouts near bushland during high fire risk periods 'disgraceful'

| Dominic Giannini
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Mount Mac entrance

Burnouts near the Mount Mac entrance can see meet-ups of over 50 cars every Friday night. Photos: Dominic Giannini.

Locals and police officers have called burnouts in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Lower Cotter Catchment absolutely disgraceful during a period of such high fire risk.

At the Uriarra community meeting on Sunday (12 January), residents voiced concerns over weekly meet-ups that can see in excess of 50 cars, including trailers with extra sets of tyres, doing burnouts every Friday night near the Mount Mac entrance.

Drift marks around the tight corners on the way up to Uriarra are also a common sight.

Burnout marks

Bushfire smoke is replaced by burning rubber on Friday nights as locals are concerned that burnout meets can start a fire with the park being so dry.

After losing the small forestry settlement in the 2003 fires, residents are worried about how fast a fire could spread in the surrounding bushlands if sparks or smoulder from burnouts started a blaze.

Acting Police Officer in charge of Tuggeranong Police Station Chris Ball said this behaviour will not be tolerated.

“I saw the burnout marks as we were driving up here today, and my personal view is that is disgraceful,” he told the residents at the community meeting.

“It should not be happening, especially at this time of year, it is so dry, with fires around the country.

“It is something we are aware of, and something that we are working very, very hard on.”

Skid marks on a bridge

Burnout skid marks across a single lane bridge near Uriarra.

ACT Parks and Conservation Service manager Brett McNamara said any suspicious behaviour should be called in immediately.

“Obviously the Pearsons Creek fire was started by a car there,” he said at the community meeting.

“So we have had this area officially closed for a number of weeks now. Before Christmas, we took the decision to close the park and the surrounding areas west of the Murrumbidgee.

“The message is out there to keep people out of the landscape in case there is a fire.

“It is very much high on the radar. I called in a car last night and within an hour police had dealt with it.”

Remains of tyres

Rubber and tyre scraps litter the Mount Mac entrance, with clumps of rubber spread across the road.

Officer Ball says drivers will be held responsible.

“We can do things like seize the cars and hold the drivers accountable,” he said.

“Cameras are in the discussion and we have a number of different approaches being used, but obviously I will not go into all those.”

Anyone that witnesses a suspicious incident is urged not to take matters into their own hands but to contact police immediately.

Mount Mac entrance

Burnout marks outside the Mount Mac entrance.

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This has been going on for some time and I agree that consideration be given to providing a location(s) away from public roads for the burnout enthusiasts. I hope it doesn’t take serious injuries or deaths to change things.

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