News Queensland Bushfire crisis rolls on as once safe areas threatened

Bushfire crisis rolls on as once safe areas threatened

Queensland bushfire
The Queensland fires are unprecedented in scale and intensity. Photo: Channel Nine
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The Queensland bushfire crisis has entered its sixth day with flare ups in areas that have never before been at risk of huge outbreaks.

The ABC says there are an estimated 120 fires burning across the state, with alerts also in place for Deepwater, Rules Beach and Oyster Creek

The Broken River blaze, in the MacKay region, flared up Thursday, with Eungella Chalet manager Tess Ford saying the rainforest, which had been ringed by fire for days, was now ablaze.

“It’s rainforest, mate and it’s all burning … we’ve got two big fires coming in the back of us, there’s the other one coming up the range on the left-hand side, there’s another one coming up on the right-hand side,” she told AAP.

The rural community of 22 people was told just before noon to evacuate eastwards towards Eungella, about five kilometres away.

Ms Ford says she’s never seen anything like the past week’s fires, which included a “fireball” ripping through the valley on Monday.

“All the locals said ‘we’ll be right, it won’t burn through the rainforest’ and it is and there’s just so much forest. It’s absolutely, oh my God,” she said.

We haven’t any rain since May but we had Cyclone Debbie two years ago and Cyclone Ului in 2010, so there’s lots of fuel in the forest and no moisture, and the air is really dry.”

Ms Ford said the Broken River fire was now “creeping into the gully” next to Eungella.

“We got fire trucks, we got water tankers, we got firies all around us,” she said. “We just need (the wind) to stay westerly and (the fire) will creep along (in the gully).”

The chalet’s guests, who were contractors working in the area, were evacuated on Wednesday and Ms Ford says she’s been feeding about 100 firefighters since.

“The boys are getting pretty tired but everybody has been able to catch a couple of hours here and there and keep going,” she said.

Power supplies have been intermittent since Monday’s fireball, which is causing problems for residents who use electric water pumps to access groundwater, she said.

“They can’t get to their water, so they can’t defend their property,” Mrs Ford says.

The blaze is travelling southwest from Eungella National Park, west of Mackay.

Fire conditions are slightly better than they were on Wednesday, when they were listed as catastrophic.

But authorities say Queensland’s bushfire crisis is far from over, with days of hot, dry conditions ahead.

Residents in Winfield, south of Baffle Creek in central Queensland were told to leave their homes around midday Thursday after the blaze jumped the waterway and began moving south.

Earlier residents of Campwin Beach and Sarina Beach, south of Mackay in north Queensland, fled to a beach as a bushfire threatens homes in two small communities in north Queensland.

Those fire alerts have now been downgraded.

Everyone in the Queensland tourist town The Caves has been asked to leave because a fast-moving fire is closing in on the community.

The caves is a small community of some 700 residents, 25km north of Rockhampton and Gracemere, which was saved from fire on Wednesday.

It boasts two limestone cave attractions – the Capricorn Cave and the Government-owned Mount Etna Caves National Park.

The fire was travelling north-east from Barmoya Road mid-afternoon Thursday and was expected to affect Whitings Road, Ladynskis Road, Olsens Caves Road and The Caves Tourist Park.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expressed elation on Thursday at fire fighters having saved the town of Gracemere.

“We have saved Gracemere. This is fantastic news,” she told Seven, saying 8000 people who fled the blaze were now allowed to go home.

No homes are believed to have been lost there.

Authorities were on Thursday morning hoping to get into Mount Larcom, inland from Gladstone, fearing homes may have been lost there.

“We believe that we have had some structural loss, but we can’t confirm the amount,” Mr McCormack said.

He said there was damage to an agricultural building at a high school in the area, and the fire cut traffic on the Bruce Highway, amid fears burnt trees could fall onto cars.

Authorities still don’t know exactly how many homes have been lost since the crisis began last weekend.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged federal help for Queenslanders affected by the fires and begged people to heed evacuation orders.

“You can rebuild a home, but you can’t rebuild a family,” he said.
More than 40 schools in central Queensland remained closed on Thursday.

-with AAP