People are being told to prepare to leave two settlements on Queensland’s Fraser Island as a dangerous bushfire bears down on them.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services told people at The Oakes and the larger Kingfisher Bay Village and Resort to get ready to go just after 1pm on Tuesday (local time).
The blaze, which has already burnt half of the world heritage listed island, is moving south with the main front only 400 metres from The Oakes.
“You need to be ready to follow your bushfire survival plan. If you do not have a plan, or intend to leave, you should be ready to leave the area because the situation could get worse quickly,” QFES said.
“Firefighters, with the assistance of waterbombing aircraft, will continue working to contain the fire today but firefighters may not be able to protect every property. You should not expect a firefighter at your door.”
It came just hours after Queensland police revoked an emergency declaration, previously declared due to the Happy Valley township bushfire.
“While conditions have eased, the community are advised to continue to monitor conditions and take advice from emergency services on the ground,” the notice read.
There were urgent plans to bombard the blaze with water-bombing aircraft early on Tuesday.
It came as overnight rain brought some relief to firefighting efforts. Firefighters on the island said 25 millimetres of rain fell during the past 24 hours and had improved conditions by Tuesday.
“We are hoping to have another 19 aircraft, including … two large air tankers in use today as soon as we can get them in the air,” Queensland Fire and Emergency Services QFES co-ordinator Brian Cox told Nine’s Today show on Tuesday, with waterbombing underway from 7am.
“We have already got ground crews there as we speak helping that particular township.”
About 50 permanent Happy Valley residents remain on the island, and are helping with the firefighting effort.
RFS Volunteer fire fighter Russell Postle said the rain followed another “spectacular effort” from firefighting crews.
“Everything went through unscathed, we lost a picnic table I think, but that was about it,” he told the ABC.
Mr Cox said Monday’s intensive air and ground firefighting operation had borne fruit and effectively contained a fire to the north of Happy Valley.
“We saved the town,” he said.
But drier, windy conditions on Tuesday are likely to present a further challenge. Weather bureau senior forecaster Jonty Hall told the ABC conditions could get “tricky” for firefighters on the ground.
“It’s potentially a tricky day again for them, with a trough system that is going to introduce these milder conditions coming through those areas affected by fires,” he said.
The fires, which began in October, have burned through about half of the heritage-listed Fraser Island, also known as K’gari. They are still burning in three areas.
People at the island’s Kingfisher Bay resort and village have again been told to prepare to leave as a fire to the east of it threatened to get worse.
On Monday, about 90 firefighters and 24 water-bombing aircraft were trying to beat back the flames.
The NSW Rural Fire Service large air tanker, the Marie Bashir, is helping with water-bombing efforts on the island.
Conservationist Cheryl Bryant took a charter flight over the island to survey the animal populations and fire damage on Monday.
The Save Fraser Island Dingoes spokeswoman painted a bleak picture, saying there were no signs of life in burnt-out areas.
“It’s still an unknown and we’re hoping that there will be an inquiry, and we’re hoping that thing that will let people over on the island, and to assess what animals still are surviving,” she told Seven News.
“We would have liked to have seen … animals and especially the dingoes around the beach but at this time of the day, it is pretty difficult because they’re not likely to be out and about.”