Petrol sniffer started fire that threatened homes, lives

A FIRE started by petrol-sniffers threatened residents' lives and homes in Cherbourg.

Dareece Joseph Carl Douglas, 18, pleaded guilty at Murgon Magistrates Court on Tuesday to lighting an unauthorised fire on July 26.

Magistrate Simon Young said the "terrible act" by Douglas was reckless.

"It is only through sheer good fortune that you didn't burn half of Cherbourg down," Mr Young said.

"I cannot and refuse to consider this in the light of any cultural context.

"He has proceeded counter to thousands of years of cultural tradition in how fires are to be lit and maintained."

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service solicitor Alan Korobacz said Douglas was in a paddock with four others who he described as "what is colloquially called by people as 'sniffers'".

"This is one of those sniffers ... And they do something stupid and reckless," Mr Korobacz said.

The court heard Douglas did not light the fire, but had poured petrol onto the ground.

Police Prosecutor Sergeant Wayne Bushell said the fire started in a paddock but quickly spread towards town.

"There was winds blowing towards the residential area ... (It) turned into several grass fires, which threatened houses, vehicles and residents," Sgt Bushell said.

"There were nearby children present, streets evacuated ... several homes."

Mr Young sentenced Douglas to two months prison with immediate parole, given he had already served 30 days in custody.

"I cannot express in language that you would understand, I believe, the disgust for what you have done," Mr Young said.

South Burnett

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