Driver sparks three fires beside highway driving on rim
TRAFFIC was brought to a standstill on the New England Highway for two hours while firefighters worked to put out three separate grassfires on the roadside that started with a flat tyre.
All the while the Warwick man responsible for starting the blazes says he didn't know they'd ignited.
Peter Andrew Young yesterday pleaded guilty in Warwick Magistrates Court to one count each of driving without due care and attention as well as unauthorised dealing with shop goods.
Police prosecutor Ken Wiggan said Young got a flat just after the Eight Mile Intersection in March, but continued to drive about 8km up the highway.
It almost disintegrated his tyre but the heat friction also set grass alight, Sgt Wiggan said.
"There were three separate fires about 100m in length," he said.
The court heard the fires destroyed grass along privately owned fences and damaged three telegraph poles.
Sgt Wiggan said police found Young, 51, at Allora.
"He admitted he could see sparks but was unaware of the fires and said he had nowhere to pull over," Sgt Wiggan said.
Lawyer Phil Crook said Young knew the tyre blew out but the spare was impossible to drive on.
"He knew nothing about it (the fires) until he was pulled up by police," Mr Crook said.
Mr Crook asked Magistrate Roger Stark to refrain from disqualifying Young from driving, as he was a heavy vehicle driver but had recently been unemployed.
He'd managed to line up a job from July, Mr Cook said.
But Mr Stark said disqualification would be necessary.
"It's caused damage by way of fires, who knows what could have happened?" Mr Stark said.
"This is simply behaviour which could have led to significant issue, causing fire on the side of the road.
"It's quite bizarre but it's quite an awful decision."
Young was fined $900 and disqualified from driving for two months.
His second charge related to ice-cream, chocolate and other groceries he took from Coles in Warwick in April.
He was fined a further $200 for taking the groceries and ordered to pay $47.80 in restitution.
The conviction for the shoplifting was not recorded.