There are fresh fears for the Kingfisher Bay Resort and village on Fraser Island’s southern west coast, with a gusting wind change overnight threatening to push the bushfire back towards the township.
Weeks of fire burning on multiple fronts, in difficult terrain have torn through more than 80,000 hectares of the island’s lush green landscape.
Rain in recent days has not extinguished the fires and Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Pieter Claassen said a south-easterly change is expected on Wednesday morning with winds gusting up to 50km/h.
“The change in wind direction has to be accounted for in fighting those fires in terms of setting up containment lines and things like this,” he said.
“So with the change, we will see the temperatures drop by quite a few degrees around the area.
“We will also see the humidity drop, which does also increase fire dangers [but] do have the potential to see some decent rainfalls on Fraser Island from late in the week and over the weekend.”
Happy Valley’s ‘horrendous’ day
Residents of Happy Valley were narrowly spared property destruction this week and know only too well how harrowing the ordeal could be.
Elspeth Murray from the Happy Valley Community Association said the community banded together to fight off the inferno in what she described as a “horrendous” day.
“We were being attacked by walls of fire. The flames were pretty terrifying,” Ms Murray said.
“But we had a plan. Backburning saved our town. It worked we did not lose any property.”
Ms Murray said the bushfire came within a few metres of some houses.
“I got down to the emergency centre and I could tell by the looks on their faces they were really worried and they had me really worried,” she said.
“That was the scariest time for me when I could see these people working as hard as they possibly could but they were battling against the fires and the elements and horrendous weather conditions we had.
“Ten helicopter water drops were done to help put fire out within the town perimeter.
“We consider ourselves very lucky.”
The holiday home operator said the community “banded together” and set up a WhatsApp group to keep everyone informed.
“There is a straight line when you go out there now of where the fire got to and it could not go any further because of the work that was done over winter to protect the town.”
While the Fraser blaze is the largest and most concerning fire in the state, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service is monitoring about 40 fires overall.
As of Tuesday night, they were burning as far north as Cape York, as far west as Cloncurry and near Goondiwindi on the southern border.