Jubilant cheers broke out when relieved Sunshine Coast bushfire evacuees were told they could finally return to their homes on Wednesday.
Residents of Peregian Beach, Marcus Beach and Castaways Beach were advised by authorities about 10am on Wednesday that it was safe to return.
More than 5000 people were evacuated from 2500 homes within 24 hours when the fire, which could have been deliberately lit, tore through bushland on Monday.
On Wednesday, Queensland police released astonishing footage from police body cams from inside the fire front.
It showed Senior Constables Cameron McLean, Mark Johnston, Darryl Campbell and Gabrielle Zwaan-Ward knocking on doors and helping residents as the emergency evacuation gathered pace on Monday afternoon.
“Let me give you a hand mate – there’s a fire coming,” an officer said to an elderly man in his dining room.
On Wednesday, Noosa Council Mayor Tony Wellington said people welcomed with glee the news they could finally go home.
“People were at the road blocks to wait to get back to their homes and as soon as the road blocks were lifted there was significant jubilation – cheers went up,” he said.
“I know many people will be relived to get back to assess the damage.”
However, the long wait was not over for many, with emergency situations remaining in Weyba, Weyba Downs and Peregian Breeze.
“Residents of these areas should not attempt to return to their homes at this stage,” police have warned.
It is unknown how many people are still unable to go home.
The fire is still not contained, despite the help of a 737 aircraft that dumped 15,000 litres of fire suppressant on the flames on Tuesday.
The region received some brief showers overnight but not enough to extinguish the fire.
The Bureau of Meteorology says cooler temperatures and lighter winds on Wednesday and Thursday will be favourable for firefighters.
However, the fire danger will spike again on Friday and Saturday when temperatures rise again.
Almost 80 fires are still burning from the south-east corner of Queensland to Lockhart River in the far north. They have destroyed 33,000 hectares of bushland since the crisis began late last week.
Eight fires – in Brisbane, Stanthorpe, the south-east and central Queensland regions – are being probed by a special police taskforce for potential arson.
To date, 17 homes have been lost in Queensland and nine in NSW since the crisis started on Thursday.
NSW firefighters are also hoping for a better day at three firegrounds on the state’s north coast as they continue to try to get on top of three major blazes still burning out of control.
A shoutout to all our firefighters who have battled fires across both QLD & NSW over the past few days. You are all heros who have worked tirelessly in terrible conditions. God bless you all! #legume #stanthorpe #fires #ourheros pic.twitter.com/wrUCnPvoEz
— Allison Dunkley (@KipSilverwolf) September 11, 2019
Watch-and-act alerts remain in place on Wednesday for fires at Bees Nest near Armidale, Drake near Tenterfield and Shark Creek in the Clarence Valley after emergency warnings were downgraded on Tuesday.
The Bees Nest fire has taken out more than 66,500 hectares and is still burning close to homes and properties, although conditions have generally eased from earlier in the week.
But residents in Billys Creek, Tyringham, Marengo, Moonpar, Dundarrabin and Bostobrick have been advised to continue to monitor the fire.
The Long Gully road fire at Drake has burned about 40,000 hectares and is still not under control. It is continuing to spread due to high winds.
The areas most affected are west of the Clarence River in the Girard State Forest.
At Shark Creek, the fire is burning south of Yamba and to the north and south of the villages of Angourie and Wooloweyah.
This fire has burned through more than 9300 hectares of bushland in the Yuraygir National Park.
But firefighters have slowed the spread of the flames and “conditions are easing and the immediate threat to properties has eased”, the NSW Rural Fire Service said on Wednesday.
NSW Premier Glady Berejiklian is due to visit the firegrounds on Wednesday to see the damage first hand.
She will travel to Glen Innes and Tenterfield with Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Emergency Services Minister David Elliot.