Rebecca Dunstall shared these photos of the fire advancing in Pechey on Wednesday afternoon.
Rebecca Dunstall shared these photos of the fire advancing in Pechey on Wednesday afternoon.

Bushfire crisis: Evacuation orders in place as fuse lit

RESIDENTS living in or near three fire zones have been ordered to leave now as authorities warn of worsening bushfire conditions over coming days.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services have issued "leave now" orders for residents at Woodgate and Kinkuna Waters, both near Bundaberg, and Black Snake, west of Gympie.

At the Woodgate blaze, a number of areas remained closed, with residents unable to return home. Some have been allowed back into the bushfire zone under police escort.

There are concerns power, water and mobile phone service may be lost.

Near the Black Snake fire, Thornside residents are urged to leave now if they have not already. Those who have got out are told not to return.

"There's even potential pockets on Sunday, which is expected to be our next peak day, to have extreme conditions in some localised areas in the southwest of Queensland," Queensland Fire and Emergency Service Acting Commissioner Mike Wassing said. "We haven't seen any rain. We won't see any rain."

It comes as a teenage boy has been charged with lighting a fire that destroyed 36 structures in a horror week of Queensland bushfires authorities warn will ramp up on Sunday.

Cooler temperatures and slower winds allowed firefighters to make up ground on several bushfires yesterday, but conditions are expected to worsen again this weekend.

Fires near Bundaberg, as well as southwest of Brisbane, northeast of Toowoomba and west of Yeppoon forced residents to remain out of their homes or prepare for evacuations for the third day in a row.

More than 70 fires burned yesterday, including a series of spot fires near Noosa North Shore, which authorities believe were deliberately lit.

 

Rural firefighters who successfully worked on containment lines to control the bushfire at Black Snake on Wednesday night.
Rural firefighters who successfully worked on containment lines to control the bushfire at Black Snake on Wednesday night.

 

A boy, 16, was charged with starting the fires near Yeppoon.

"There's even potential pockets on Sunday, which is expected to be our next peak day, to have extreme conditions in some localised areas in the southwest of Queensland," Queensland Fire and Emergency Service Acting Commissioner Mike Wassing said. "We haven't seen any rain. We won't see any rain."

About 246 homes have been saved in recent weeks, according to Premier Annatastica Palaszczuk, who urged parents to talk with their children about the dangers of lighting fires.

 

"I think everybody needs to sit down and talk to their children about the consequences," she said. "I mean, thankfully there were no lives lost, but it could've been a whole different story."

More than $170,000 in insurance payments have been made to Queensland victims.

A fire at Woodgate, near Bundaberg, continued to rage out of control last night, with residents urged to flee their homes via the only road in and out of the region. 

They waited patiently on a road for police to allow them back into their homes yesterday, but a large exclusion zone remained in place.

 

Fire came right up to the fence line of a home on McMullen Rd, north of Toowoomba, November 14.
Fire came right up to the fence line of a home on McMullen Rd, north of Toowoomba, November 14.

 

Further south at Pechey, northeast of Toowoomba - where a waterbombing helicopter crashed on Wednesday - conditions eased yesterday.

Helicopter pilot Dave Williamson walked away without serious injury and his boss yesterday told media the pilot of 50 years was "lucky" to have walked away and was keen to get back to fighting fires.

A similar reprieve came at Clumber in the Scenic Rim, southwest of Brisbane.

"Things are in good shape," State Disaster Co-ordinator and Queensland Police Service Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.

"We're pretty happy in terms of our resources." 

Minimal rain and hot temperatures predicted for the next three days are expected to give little reprieve to firefighters battling blazes.

 

Rural firefighters worked through the day to dampen hotspots and prevent a flare up at the Pechey bushfire, north of Toowoomba, November 14.
Rural firefighters worked through the day to dampen hotspots and prevent a flare up at the Pechey bushfire, north of Toowoomba, November 14.

 

BoM national operations leader Richard Wardle said severe fire conditions were expected in the Darling Downs and Granite Belt regions throughout the weekend.

The weather bureau is monitoring 70 fires alongside QFES and is focusing heavily on the Noosa North Shore, Woodgate, and Kilkivin fires. Isolated thunder storms are also forecast for the south-east but are expected to bring "minimal" rain.

"The main story with these storms could be the dry lightning potentially igniting further fires," Mr Wardle said.

The warmer conditions returning over the weekend will also see a "low-intensity" heatwave set in across the south east, Granite Belt and Darling Downs.

An onshore flow will also provide a slight relief for coastal areas.

 

 

The bureau is expecting next week that the heatwave will push north up as far as the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Mr Wardle said the temperatures likely to set in over the weekend would bring high and severe fire dangers.

"The temperatures in some locations will be 6C above average for this time of year," he said. "Winds won't be that much of a story unless they are associated with gusty thunder storms."

Smoke haze is likely to remain low over the weekend across the region, but a southerly wind change early next week could bring conditions back to what was experienced earlier this week.

For the longer-range forecast, Mr Wardle said Queensland would remain "dryer than average", with no significant rain on the horizon.



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