"You will be put through court as an arsonist" is what a Mount Isa grazier was told by the government when he wanted to reduce the risk of fire spreading from a highway corridor onto his land. Now he stands in ash after a quarter of his property was burnt from a highway fire. Ian and Marianna Campbell own and manage Rifle Creek Station, a 506,560 acre (205,000 hectare) commercial Brangus operation in the Mount Isa region. For over two weeks Mr Campbell and his family were fighting to contain a fire that burned across his property and threatened suburbs of Mount Isa. On October 16, a fire sparked from a vehicle travelling along the Barkly Highway, east of Mount Isa. "They got the fire out on one side then two days later a spark jumped the road and started it on the other side," Mr Campbell said. "It has burnt 12 months feed for 3000 head of cattle. If you work that off adjustment it's probably $500,000 just in feed. "Also labour for nine or 10 of us, about five machines working, some were hired, and service vehicles carrying diesel for each machine. Shouldn't have lost much stock, not sure about baby calves, hoping that the cattle got out of the way. "I'm guessing about a quarter of the place has been burnt and I haven't worked out the total cost yet, won't know until the bills come in." Mr Campbell said the fire had caused significant damage to his highway fence including wires he had replaced only two years ago, and said Transport and Main Roads should be responsible. "The highway fence is pretty badly damaged and we are hoping that (TMR) are responsible for some of that," he said. "The trees within their corridor have fallen on the fence and the higher build up of fuel on their side of the fence has burnt the steel out of the wire. "We've been told 'under no circumstances' are we allowed to put a machine inside their corridor to clear the timber and vegetation so it doesn't wreck the fence. "And I've been told by three government departments that if my (wet season) fires infringe on their corridors that I would be put through court as an arsonist." Conducting annual wet season burns on grazing properties is a regular form of fire prevention in the north, and Mr Campbell encouraged the government to follow suit before history repeated itself, again. "In 2012 the exact same thing happened. Nothing has changed and it will happen again until they manage their corridors," Mr Campbell said. "We had never been burnt out in the history of the property, until the corridors were fenced in. It was controlled with grazing and wet season burns without it coming back and affecting the highway. "They (TMR) lost all their infrastructure and that's pretty bad management, their signs and guideposts are all burnt. And it's pretty bad when it nearly burns a suburb. "The government need to wet season burn, it's the only thing that will change the situation." This time of year Mr Campbell is usually busy mustering however the fire has shifted his focus. "The only reason that fire is out, is because once it moved away from the corridors it hit country that we had previously wet season burned," he said. "The next couple of weeks we will be busy keeping water up to the cattle and seeing where they move to, or we may need to shift them to a different area of the property. "We had two really good years in a row... we were in the process of buying cattle to put there and now it's wasted." Mr Campbell was working 19 hour days fighting a 20 kilometre fire front to save as much grass as possible. "Everyone was pretty exhausted," he said. "You can't stop the fires in spinifex and turpentine country so we had to try and steer them along the ranges and then cut a break at the end of the range. We were fighting the fire trying to save as much grass as we could. "It was burning in all directions, we were just busy trying to fight it out in the hills we couldn't do anything near town. We heard from the head of the Rural Fire Service they did a good job near town. "I'd like to know who was in contact with (TMR) and what they did and said, because we had no contact from them whatsoever." Mr Campbell said he was getting in touch with his solicitors to assess his options. Mr Campbell would like to thank McGinnis Rural Contracting, 4W Contracting and David and Sandra Mitchell for dropping other jobs to help fight the fires, SMH and JSB for assisting with machinery hire, and his neighbours and crew for their hard work. Department of Transport and Main Roads were contacted for comment. Disclaimer: North Queensland Register journalist Samantha Campbell is Ian Campbell's daughter-in-law.