Beach Fires Burn

Published on Friday, 4 June 2021 at 8:47:45 AM

Community members are reminded that it is illegal to burn fires on any beach in the Port Hedland Local Government Area, in accordance with the Bush Fires Act 1954. Lighting of illegal fires will result in a $250.00 penalty.

It follows one year since local toddler Matilda stumbled onto a campfire at Finucane Island Boat Ramp, which had been covered with sand and not extinguished with water.

Matilda had to be flown from Port Hedland to Perth to undergo surgery at Perth Children’s Hospital. Due to her burns, Matilda will need to undergo regular surgery and physiotherapy until she is in her twenties.

“Matilda was in the fire for only a couple of seconds and received serious burns to both her hands and feet. The Burns Team told us that had she not been able to stay steady on her feet and actually fallen completely over in the fire, the consequences would have been catastrophic,” Mallory Hawkins, Matilda’s mother, said.

“Matilda will require surgery and daily physical therapy until she is in her twenties.

“Just recently, another fire was spotted at the exact same spot at Finucane Island where Matilda was burned. The fire was not even one metre away from picnic tables, where families and children play.

“I want people to see Matilda’s burns and realise that lighting a fire on a beach and covering it with sand or dirt can change someone’s life forever: it isn’t worth it,” Ms. Hawkins said.

Mayor Peter Carter urged local residents and tourists to heed the message that beach fires can cause catastrophic burns, and they are illegal.

“Don’t let a flame turn into a lifetime of pain for someone else: the lighting of fires on any beach in the Port Hedland Local Government Area is illegal.

“In some WA communities, you are allowed to light fires on the beach, but that isn’t the case anywhere in Port Hedland.

“Covering a fire on a beach with sand or dirt turns it into an invisible furnace, which can be stumbled upon by passers-by and cause life changing burns.”

If you are planning to burn on your property, an application for permit to burn form must be completed five business days before you plan to burn.

Click here to access the printable poster

For media information:
Laura Hawes
Manager Corporate Affairs
(08) 9158 9365 | lhawes@porthedland.wa.gov.au

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