News Conditions change again, hours after Fraser Island township given all clear

Conditions change again, hours after Fraser Island township given all clear

An aerial screen grab image of the K'gari (Fraser Island) fire on Thursday. Photo: AAP/QFES
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Conditions have changed with the Fraser Island bushfire on Sunday night, hours after emergency services declared the blaze was not expected to reach the Happy Valley settlement.

In an urgent update at 8pm Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) advised the bushfire was again approaching the Happy Valley township from a south-easterly direction.

It was expecting the fire to have a ‘‘significant impact’’ on the community about midnight.

QFES advised residents to leave immediately as the safest option, as it “will soon be too dangerous to drive”.

“Any persons in the vicinity of Happy Valley township should leave the area heading to the Eastern Beach and head south to Eurong Resort,” QFES advised.

Citing more favourable weather conditions to slow the fire’s speed and intensity in the earlier prediction, QFES Commissioner Greg Leach said temperatures in the low to mid 30s and wind speeds as high as 35km/h had made conditions difficult for firefighters.

An emergency warning was issued to residents on Sunday afternoon and there was a 90-minute period where the fire grew in intensity while travelling toward the valley.

“It’s currently sitting just off Happy Valley, several hundred meters back from the township, but fortunately conditions have abated in the last hour,” Mr Leach said on Sunday afternoon.

“We now don’t anticipate that the fire will run into the Happy Valley settlement today, but we’ll continue to work hard with the aircraft.”

Aircraft will be used on the fire until last light on Sunday evening before continuing again on Monday morning.

Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan said more than 90 personnel in 38 vehicles and 17 aircraft were working on Fraser Island, including the large air tanker based in Queensland for the bushfire season.

“I am also advised as well, that the New South Wales-based large aircraft tanker will be sent to Queensland tomorrow to assist in our firefighting efforts,” he said.

Mr Leach said the tanker will be used to put gel lines down between the head of the fire and the outskirts of the Happy Valley settlement to try and stop it affecting the town.

He said about 50 people remain in the area, most of whom feel that they are in a position to protect themselves and participate in the firefighting effort.

The fire is expected to reduce in intensity overnight with relative humidity between 80 and 90 per cent, before becoming more active when the weather heats up on Monday.

“If residents are in a position to leave, they should,” Mr Leach said, suggesting that coming on nightfall it’s probably best to stay in place.

There are also firefighting resources at Kingfisher Bay Resort, which remains a concern if winds change to the south or south-east.

“For us, as well as trying to use aircraft on the head of the fire, our main priorities are the protection of Happy Valley settlement and Kingfisher Bay Resort,” Mr Leech said.

“We’ll continue our firefighting efforts in the coming days and perhaps even weeks ahead of us, but we’re not going to put this fire out until we get significant rain across Fraser Island.”