Watch out for kids with matches, warns resident

AN IPSWICH resident is the latest to speak out about the need for parents to teach their children about playing with matches as Queensland experiences one of its worst fire seasons on record.

John Hayes, who is in his late 70s, and who retired to the city about five years ago, witnessed a boy trying to set fire to bushland at Ipswich Conservation Park on Sunday.

"I've got about five acres of riverfront at the end of Williams St East at Woodend," Mr Hayes said. "Across the way from me is the council park.

"I was on my property when I saw him. He couldn't have been more than 10. He walked past the viewing area and down into the bushes.

"Normally, I can't see anything there, but because it's so dry the vegetation's thinned out.

"He got out a box of matches and he's trying to light it.

"Luckily it was blowing 40km/h winds that day and he couldn't keep the light going long enough to torch the bushes."

That's when Mr Hayes yelled out.

"He jumped up and ran behind a tree," Mr Hayes said.

"I told him I'd called the police.

"He let loose with a few choice swear words, and high-tailed it the way he'd come."

Mr Hayes wanted to chase after the boy to get a photo of him, but when he got to his car it wouldn't start.

"It was that kid's lucky day, my battery was flat," Mr Hayes said.

"What shocked me was how young he was. He wasn't a teenager.

"He was well-dressed too. It looked like he could have been to church or something."

Mr Hayes said he hadn't seen this sort of behaviour before.

"There's crime about, sure, but no-one's tried to torch the place," Mr Hayes said.

"I thought the town should know, be aware about young kids with matches or lighters.

"There's been a lot in the news lately about this, mostly about teenagers, but it's not just the older ones."

It comes as police charged two teenagers for allegedly lighting a bushfire at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast.

Police will allege a group of juveniles were in bushland off Koel Circuit when a fire was deliberately lit about 4.30pm on September 9.

A 14-year-old Peregian Springs boy and a 15-year-old Coolum Beach girl have been charged with endangering property by fire.

Ipswich police are encouraging members of the community to report any suspicious activity in relation to bushfire arson.

Report suspicious fire activity by contacting Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

If you have information, also contact Policelink on 131 444 or online..



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