Authorities struggle to control a large bushfire that has set ablaze 72,000 hectares of land in Fraser Island. Any civilian access to the area is restricted from 5:00 PM today.
The bushfire started from an illegal campfire on October 15. The incident previously prompted the temporary evacuation of several campgrounds. Firefighting efforts have since been launched, but wind conditions continue to pose challenges in completely extinguishing the fire.
(Photo: The Environmental Cowboy, Facebook) Firefighters have been battling out a huge bushfire in Fraser Island since mid-October.
Limited Access Starting Today
Residents and visitors are advised to restrict their movements to avoid casualties. Although residents are not asked to leave, the use of inland roads will be limited. Likewise, tourists with planned trips to Fraser Island are also encouraged to cancel their vacation.
As the weather dictates the direction of fire movements, Fire Commissioner Greg Leach assured everyone that they would immediately alert concerned individuals of necessary actions in case of greater risks.
They have been working closely with the resort operators, who are also ready to take action and evacuate if needed. Crews are also set to meet up with people from the Happy Valley community to prepare them.
Some bushfires are burning in the Wide Bay-Burnett region, so residents are warned to be vigilant and report any fires immediately.
Meanwhile, visitors at Kingfisher Bay Resort, which is on the western side of the island, remain undeterred. With the fire still 25 to 30 kilometers away, resort manager David Hay said visitors had not encountered any problems aside from occasional smoke on some tours.
Firefighting Efforts Struggle to Match Furious Fire
Firefighting crews, including Queensland Parks and Wildlife Rangers and Butchulla rangers, have joined forces to contain the bushfire. Authorities also employed water-bombing aircraft like the Bundaberg-based large aerial tanker.
Aside from the weather, the area’s terrain and vegetation also affect the extent of the spread. With its thick canopy and sandy soils, even a small ember is a threat that can endanger what firefighters have worked on for days.
Peter Hollier, Queensland Fire and Emergency Service Rural Fire Service North Coast regional manager said that they poured in under 300,000 liters of water in just a day. However, it remained futile in taming the fire.
A heavy and steady downpour of rain would make a significant difference in the situation as it can help penetrate the thick vegetation and put the fire out. The weather has been parched as there is no significant rainfall on the island for some time.
Authorities Foresee Tough Days Ahead
With the bushfire out of control, blackening more than 40 percent of the island, more reinforcements were sent to battle out the situation. However, stronger winds and changing wind directions threatens to make emergency response more difficult.
According to Michael Koch, area director of Rural Fire Service, the wind was due to switch from a southerly to a northerly on Sunday. This would turn the bushfire towards the eastern side of the island, potentially affecting Happy Valley and Cathedrals.
To make situations worse, a heatwave is predicted to affect parts of Queensland over the weekend and into next week. Temperatures are predicted to exceed 40°C. With such conditions, bushfires can easily ignite and spread quickly.
As the fire continues to march towards nearby areas, fire behavior specialists and mapping crews are laying out strategies to prevent the breach on the next containment line. They aim to steer away from the fire from major infrastructures, so they are already mapping the likely spread of fire in the coming days.
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