Queensland fires: "Anything can happen" as cyclone threatens

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

PREMIER: Very high fire danger continues, long way to go

  • 'LEAVE NOW': Deepwater; Baffle Creek; Rules Beach; Oyster Creek
  • 'PREPARE TO LEAVE': Ellerbeck (near Cardwell); Winfield; Captain Creek; Dalrymple Heights
  • 'SEEK SHELTER': Broken River; Finch Hatton; Eungella; Dalrymple Heights (formerly Broken River); Crediton (formerly Broken River)
  • 'STAY INFORMED': The Caves; Mount Fox (south west of Ingham); Carmila; Kabra (formerly Stanwell/Kabra); Kowari Gorge bushfire (encompassing the Eungella bushfire); Rungoo; Carruchan (near Cardwell); Ellerbeck (near Cardwell); Warrami (south of Tully); Undullah; North Stradbroke Island; Tinnanbar; Mutchilba (near Atherton); The Caves; Mount Larcom (formerly Ambrose); Round Hill; South of Baffle Creek; Delaneys Creek; Walkamin (formerly Mutchilba); Wamuran
  • CYCLONE WATCH: Moderate chance of cyclone forming, adding to extreme weather conditions

UPDATE: A RESCUE helicopter has been sent to the bush fire zone at Eungella to airlift nine women and children to safety at Finch Hatton.

The RACQ CQ helicopter is currently en route.

It comes as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there was an unfolding situation in Eungella near Mackay.

"Authorities are making decisions as we speak," she tweeted.

25 appliances and air tankers are on site at the bush fire.

"Senior fire authorities and police will do everything to keep the Eungella community safe," the Premier tweeted.

"Rapidly changing situation there and across the state.

"This is another reminder on day 6 of this emergency that the threat is prolonged and continuing.

"Please stay tuned to warnings."

Firefighters are at the scene of a second fire near Takura.

Yesteday's Toogoom Cane Rd fire was first reported at 2.40pm yesterday, and crews stayed at the scene until about 5.30pm.

It is believed the fire, at Toogoom 4WD tracks off Torbanlea-Pialba Rd, started about 12.40pm as a result of a car fire which spread to nearby grass.

As of 10.00 this morning fires continued in Eungella with local reports saying the fire is slowly climbing up the mountain towards Eungella State School.
As of 10.00 this morning fires continued in Eungella with local reports saying the fire is slowly climbing up the mountain towards Eungella State School. CONTRIBUTED

UPDATE: AUTHORITIES are warning Queenslanders to remain vigilant and that "anything can happen" as "very high" fire conditions continue. It comes as the Bureau of Meteorology says there is a moderate chance of a tropical cyclone forming off the state in coming days.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today said 114 fires were still burning across the state as of 9am, 70 of which were in central Queensland alone.

"We still have a very high fire danger and at any time can expect extreme conditions," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"What we are also seeing is that with the fire condition changes are happening earlier in the morning because of the dryness and because of the fuel that is on the ground."

She told residents to be vigilant and that anything can happen.

David Grant, from the Bureau of Meteorology, said "elevated and very challenging fire conditions" would continue across Queensland in the next few days.

"This heat is going to continue and potentially spread into southeast Queensland," he said.

FACES OF FIRE: Queensland's unsung heroes

EARLIER: QUEENSLAND remains on high alert as more than 120 blazes rage across vast areas of the state, threatening almost 20,000 people and 8000 homes.

Despite managing to save the town of Gracemere, near Rockhampton, authorities warn the danger is far from over as extreme heatwave conditions are expected well into next week.

LATEST STORIES ON THE QUEENSLAND FIRES

Fresh evacuations were ordered yesterday as strengthening winds reignited fires in several central Queensland communities.

 

The Federal Government declared Rockhampton, Mackay and Gladstone disaster zones.

Thousands of firefighters remain on the ground battling blazes across central Queensland and the southeast. Reinforcements have been sent in from NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT.

A fire unit at Damper Creek in central Queensland. Picture: QFES Media
A fire unit at Damper Creek in central Queensland. Picture: QFES Media

"It's not over yet," state disaster co-ordinator and deputy police commissioner Bob Gee said.

Rockhampton Regional Council disaster management group chairman Tony Williams said authorities remained on high alert.

"We're not out of the woods at this present stage," Cr Williams said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday visited the fire-ravaged town of Kabra, west of Rockhampton, to thank firefighters.

"We're not out of this yet," she said.

  • North Stradbroke Island: A 'stay informed' alert is in place. It relates to a bushfire near Eighteen Mile Swamp, south of Alfred Martin Way, near Main Beach. Firefighters will continue to strengthen containment lines throughout the day. Smoke will affect surrounding areas, including nearby islands and the mainland. Smoke can reduce visibility and air quality. Properties are not under direct threat at this time. 
  • Broken River: Downgraded from 'leave now' at 10.30pm to 'prepare to leave' warning issued at 1.25am advising bushfire conditions could get worse. The fire is travelling in a south-westerly direction from Eungella National Park towards Broken River. Traffic control is in place in the area. Residents who have evacuated should not return until notified by authorities. Crews are working to contain the fire but firefighters may not be able to protect every property.
  • Captain Creek: Downgraded from 'leave now' at 9.50pm to 'prepare to leave' warning at 12am but there are fears conditions could get worse. As at midnight, an unpredictable fire is travelling in a north-easterly direction towards Captain Creek. It may impact Murphy Road, west of Avocado Crescent. Fire crews have conducted backburning around houses in an effort to protect properties on Avocado Road and Range Road. Fire breaks have been established to protect houses on southern side of Murphy Road. Firefighters may not be able to protect every property.
  • Dalrymple Heights: Prepare to leave warning in place. As at 11.45pm, a large fire is burning in an easterly and westerly direction towards Schumanns Road and Chelmans Road at Dalrymple Heights. The fire is burning within Dalrymple Heights. Fire crews are working in the area overnight to contain the fire but firefighters may not be able to protect every property.
  • Carmila: Watch and act alert advised at 11.30pm a large fire is burning near Carmila West Road, travelling in a south-easterly direction towards Barbours Road and Leichardt Creek Road.
  • Tinnanbar: A stay informed alert at 11pm advises of a slow-moving bushfire burning on the eastern side of Tinnanbar Road, Tinnanbar. Fire is no longer impacting Tinnanbar Road and the road has reopened. Crews are still working in the area so motorists should drive with caution and to conditions.
  • Blue Mountain: Crews are fighting a vegetation fire burning near Peak Downs Highway, near Eton Range and Nebo, Blue Mountain. Crews will monitor the fire. Smoke may affect the Blue Mountain area, including the Peak Downs Highway. If affected, residents are advised to close windows and doors. Those suffering from a respiratory condition should keep their medications close by. Motorists are advised to drive with caution and to conditions.
  • Wamuran: Crews are on scene at a bushfire burning on the side of Mount Miketeebumulgrai, between King Road and Pates Road, Wamuran. There's no threat to property at this time. Firefighters will backburn and smoke may affect Wamuran and surrounds. If affected, residents are advised to close windows and doors. Those suffering from a respiratory condition should keep their medications close by. Motorists are advised to drive with caution and to conditions.
  • Ellerbeck: Firefighters are on scene at a vegetation fire burning near Ellerbeck Road, Ellerbeck. This fire broke out yesterday afternoon and is posing no threat to property at this time. Crews are using machinery to construct control lines in an effort to contain the fire. Smoke may affect surrounding areas overnight.
  • Deepwater, Baffle Creek, Rules Beach and Oyster Creek: A 'leave now' warning is still in place. As at 8pm, an extremely large and intense fire was still spreading in a southerly direction towards Coast Road. The fire could have a significant impact on the community. Fire crews are working to contain the fire but may not be able to protect every property. Firefighters are conducting backburning operations in the vicinity of Rules Beach Road.
  • Kowari Gorge (formerly Eungella/Finch Hatton): Prepare to leave warning in place since 7.10pm. A large and unpredictable fire is burning in the vicinity of Kowari Road and Mackay Eungella Road at Kowari. This fire is travelling in multiple directions - east and north-east in the vicinity of Kowari Road and Gorge Road; and west towards Netherdale near Mackay Eungella Road. Firefighters are conducting backburning operations between Netherdale and Eungella to contain the fire. Firefighters are currently monitoring the fire burning near Kowari Road and Gorge Road.
  • The Caves: A 'stay informed' warning in place since 7pm. A bushfire is in the vicinity of Ladynskis Road, Melanie Road and Dodds Lane, The Caves. The fire is currently contained and crews will remain on scene to monitor the blaze.
  • Campwin Beach/Sarina Beach/Mount Christian: Crews are no longer required on scene at this incident. There is no longer fire activity at this location but smoke from other fires nearby may affect residents. 

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Rick Threlfall said the hot and dry weather would continue to make conditions difficult for firefighters as the heatwave was not expected to break for days.

"We don't see much relief in terms of temperatures until at least mid next week, so we've got quite a way to go," he said.

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"We're generally looking at fairly similar conditions to what we've had with a lot of places in the mid to high 30s, so well above average."

Mr Threlfall said inland areas would cop west south-westerly winds and low humidity levels. North-easterly sea breezes were expected to develop in the afternoons.

"That's what makes firefighting difficult because the wind changes quite markedly through the day," he said.

A fire rages on a hill at Ambros in central Queensland. Picture: Mark Cranitch
A fire rages on a hill at Ambros in central Queensland. Picture: Mark Cranitch

Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned Queensland faced a tough summer, as he praised the "mates standing up for mates" attitude getting people through the bushfires.

There was bipartisan praise in Parliament for the efforts of firefighters from across Australia.

"Everyone is lending a hand and they're stepping up. Mates are helping mates," Mr Morrison told Parliament yesterday afternoon.

"They're stepping up, they're reaching out. They're helping and comforting those in need. That's the Australian way."

 

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He said Emergency Management Australia was preparing material to brief MPs about the summer ahead, including what role they could play to prepare the community for a variety of natural disasters.

"It may well be that more homes will come under threat, and we pray they will not be lost, that more hectares could be ravaged, and we pray that won't happen," he said.

"More lives could be affected, and we'll pray and do everything we can within our power to ensure that does not occur."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said firefighters in the regions had displayed dedication and professionalism in keeping people safe.

"One of the reasons a major disaster was averted in Gracemere yesterday was because they used a fire simulation system designed and financed in Victoria after Black Saturday," Mr Shorten said.

"It is proof that, whilst we never wish these disasters to happen, that Australians can learn from tragedies of the past, and we're co-operating to make them happen in the future."

A hill ablaze at Ambrose in central Queensland. Picture: Mark Cranitch
A hill ablaze at Ambrose in central Queensland. Picture: Mark Cranitch

 

 

Fire crews battle bushfires at Little Mountain on the Sunshine Coast. Picture: Lachie Millard
Fire crews battle bushfires at Little Mountain on the Sunshine Coast. Picture: Lachie Millard


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