Challenging fire conditions persist across state

 

FIRE conditions that have stoked dozens of blazes across Queensland are set to continue, challenging crews and leaving evacuated residents in limbo.

A state of fire emergency was declared on Saturday in 42 local government areas, prohibiting all outdoor fires and activities such as welding that can spark fires.

Firefighters are seen near fires at Lake Cooroibah Road and Jirrimah Crescent in Cooroibah in Noosa Shire, Queensland. Picture: AAP Image/Rob Maccoll
Firefighters are seen near fires at Lake Cooroibah Road and Jirrimah Crescent in Cooroibah in Noosa Shire, Queensland. Picture: AAP Image/Rob Maccoll

"We're experiencing tinder box-like conditions across much of the state and all it takes is one spark to start a fire that may burn for days," Fire and Emergency Services Acting Commissioner Mike Wassing said in a statement. Forecasters say very high risk conditions are expected across northern and eastern Queensland before easing on Monday.

Hot temperatures and increased fire danger are forecast to return on Tuesday, particularly in the state's south.

Fifty fires burned across the state on Saturday, with 275 firefighting vehicles on the ground and 20 water-bombing aircraft deployed or standing by. The most significant blazes were in the Gold Coast hinterland and further north on the Sunshine Coast.

Up to 9000 people are estimated to have been evacuated from suburbs at the northern end of Noosa.

The Caves Rural Fire Service firefighter Anthony Carter shared these photos of the blaze burning at Old Byfield Rd, Cobraball.
The Caves Rural Fire Service firefighter Anthony Carter shared these photos of the blaze burning at Old Byfield Rd, Cobraball.

Crews there have been challenged by a fire burning in different directions in parts of Cooroibah, Ringtail Creek, Tewantin, Noosa Banks and Noosa North Shore. Residents who had stayed on Friday were told to get out on Saturday. They were also told to evacuate from a bushfire at Tarome in the Scenic Rim west of the Gold Coast, as well as a grass fire at Cobraball, south west of Yeppoon and at Thornton in the Lockyer Valley.

Thousands of residents were evacuated and one home was destroyed in Corooibah overnight as fires continue to flare in the Sunshine Coast this morning.

Four sheds on properties were severely damaged at Noosa and the Gold Coast.

110 fire trucks and 30 water-bombing aircraft battled the blazes.

As of 7.30am, the main fires were at Cobraball, Bungundurra, Corooibah and Ringtail Creek - all at a watch and act level.

It comes after Corooibah and Ringtail Creek residents in both areas were forced to evacuate as conditions worsened to an emergency level late last night.

"Corooibah and Ringtail Creek have recently been downgraded as of 7am which is great news," a QFES spokeswoman said.

Reyna Lucas and her children Maxine and Jaden are seen after being evacuated from their home at Tewantin and are now camping out at the Noosa Leisure Centre. Picture: AAP Image/Rob Maccoll
Reyna Lucas and her children Maxine and Jaden are seen after being evacuated from their home at Tewantin and are now camping out at the Noosa Leisure Centre. Picture: AAP Image/Rob Maccoll

A QFES spokeswoman warned residents in Noosa Banks, Noosa Northshore and Ringtail creek must not return.

She said residents should stay in the evacuation centre at Noosa Leisure Centre until authorities say it is safe enough to return home.

"Residents need to be ready to follow their bush survival plan. The fire is contained but it is burning within containment lines so conditions remain unpredictable.

"Any residents who have evacuated have been advised it's too dangerous to return back to their homes and have been advised to go to the Noosa Leisure Centre.

Firefighters at Tewantin. Picture: Annette Dew
Firefighters at Tewantin. Picture: Annette Dew

Authorities say swathes of bushland parched by drought increase the risk of fires breaking out.

Almost 100,000 hectares and 19 homes have been destroyed in Queensland since the start of September, with 2000 bushfires burning since then.

Late on Saturday night firefighters were trying to extinguish a blaze that had forced more than 4000 people from their homes on the Sunshine Coast.

An army of firefighters from as far away as Gladstone were pouring in to try to end the five-day fire, which has cut a swath across the area north of Noosa, forcing the evacuation of Tewantin, Cooroibah and Noosa North Shore.

While hundreds of residents were last night waiting to find out the extent of the blaze that damaged at least one home and destroyed a number of other buildings, authorities deemed it safe enough to allow thousands of Tewantin residents to go home.

The fire is one of 36 burning across Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, in what has shaped as a season from hell for firefighters and communities caught up in the blazes.

Firefighters on the Sunshine Coast were hoping the wind would drop last night, but have warned residents to prepare for the worst.

Hundreds remain in evacuation centres or bunked in with friends and relatives.

Dampening down the fire zone at Lower Beechmont in the Gold Coast hinterland yesterday. Picture: Richard Gosling/AAP
Dampening down the fire zone at Lower Beechmont in the Gold Coast hinterland yesterday. Picture: Richard Gosling/AAP

One of them is Sienna Martin, who made a desperate 16km trek on foot, leading her two daughters' beloved ponies out of the Cooroibah blaze.

Ms Martin dashed into rescue the four horses - Harry, Oliver, Bella and Sugar - as the flames and smoke tore towards their paddock.

She and daughters Sakari, 14, and Taia, 11, were yesterday caring for the ponies at Noosa Showgrounds where they were sheltering from the fire.

A squadron of 11 aircraft were waterbombing the fire front yesterday as Ms Palaszczuk visited a Noosa fire evacuation centre and reassured residents that police were patrolling the area to prevent looting,

"We don't want people going home yet until we've done the line scans to make sure that we're definitely sure that it's safe," she said.

Sienna Martin with daughters Sakari, 15, and Taia, 11, and and two of their horses Oliver and Bella. Picture: Annette Dew
Sienna Martin with daughters Sakari, 15, and Taia, 11, and and two of their horses Oliver and Bella. Picture: Annette Dew


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