Residents of K'gari-Fraser Island told to leave immediately as 'dangerous' bushfire threatens Happy Valley

A large bushfire "may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path" as it burns towards the Fraser Island town of Happy Valley in Queensland.

The bushfire on K'gari-Fraser Island has been burning since mid-October.

The bushfire on K'gari-Fraser Island has been burning since mid-October. Source: Save Fraser Island Dingoes Inc.

Happy Valley residents are being urged to leave immediately as a bushfire coming at them "with a vengeance" will make it too dangerous to drive out on Queensland's K'gari-Fraser Island.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services are also warning residents and visitors in the Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village to prepare to leave if it's safe to do so on Monday morning.

Firefighters have been backburning to reduce the impact of the blaze, which is bearing down on Happy Valley from the northwest.

"Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing," QFES said in an alert on Monday morning.

"The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path. Fire crews may not be able to protect your property. You should not expect a firefighter at your door: act now.

"Power, water, and mobile phone service may be lost and road conditions may become very dangerous over the next several hours."

However, some residents are staying behind to defend their homes against the encroaching fire.

Elspeth Murray from the Happy Valley Community Association said overnight humidity and a drop in the wind had hindered the fire front, but 30 kmh winds are expected on Monday.

"It will be coming at us with a vengeance," she told Nine's Today program.

Ms Murray is staying to defend her home in Happy Valley, and says locals have been preparing for severe bushfires for 18 months.

She said the community has worked on hazard reduction and built fire breaks under the direction of a resident who is a former Rural Fire Service inspector, with 30 years experience.

Ms Murray said 10 people had left voluntarily on Sunday, but about 50 people are staying, with the safety of the beach only 200m away if conditions deteriorate.

"So no-one is being stupid, we know what we are doing," she said.

"We have been well-schooled in what often will burn down towns like ours - it's not the flames coming straight at us, but the ember attacks that happen and light up unattended property. So every home has been well and truly cleaned of leaf matter.

"Our garden is looking a lot greener than it should at this time of year only because we have been watering it solidly for the last three weeks to ensure that we don't have dry grass around. Neighbours have looked after neighbours here."

The NSW Rural Fire Service large air tanker, the Marie Bashir, is also flying to Queensland to help with water bombing efforts.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described the situation on the island as very serious.

"You only have to look at the horrendous temperatures that we're experiencing over there, I commend all of the firefighters for the work that they're doing, and it is a serious situation," she added.

Federal Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the state had all the resources it needs to fight the fire.

He said the blaze was harder to beat because firefighters needed to use more water to dampen the sandy soil on the island.

The fire on the world heritage listed Fraser Island, has been burning since mid-October.

 


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Published 6 December 2020 at 4:48pm, updated 7 December 2020 at 8:41pm
Source: AAP - SBS