Australia

Water-bombing helicopter crash lands fighting as fires rage across Queensland

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A helicopter pilot has crashed while waterbombing a fire west of Brisbane. More than 60 blazes continue to burn across the state.

A water-bombing helicopter has crashed as it battled bushfires in Queensland’s Darling Downs, west of Brisbane.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson said the helicopters went down off Grapetree Rd about 2pm while carrying out  "water-bombing operations at the Pechey fire".

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks at a screen as he gets a briefing on the bushfire situation in New South Wales and Queensland.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks at a screen as he gets a briefing on the bushfire situation in New South Wales and Queensland.
AAP

The pilot suffered "non-life threatening injuries" during the crash and is now being treated by paramedics.

The spokesperson said the pilot had to make a "hard landing"

Fast-moving bushfires continue to burn int the area. 

Rural firefighters preparing to fight fires at Spicers Gap, south west of Brisbane.
Rural firefighters preparing to fight fires at Spicers Gap, south west of Brisbane.
AAP

Residents and holidaymakers have piled onto boats to escape a large out of control bushfire whipped up by gusty winds on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Firefighters and water-bombers battled the blaze that jumped containment lines at Noosa North Shore on the northern banks of the Noosa River on Wednesday afternoon.

"About two hours ago we thought we had it contained but the wind is terribly variable at the moment," Noosa mayor Tony Wellington told AAP.

"A change of wind means it's now spotting beyond containment lines."

Firefighters in Noosa North Shore, Queensland.
Firefighters in Noosa North Shore, Queensland.

Mr Wellington said the entire population of about 180 residents and holidaymakers had been evacuated from the peninsula of land that adjoins the Great Sandy National Park.

The only way in and out of the area is by ferry or private boat, he said.

"This is the second time they've been evacuated ... they were evacuated over the weekend during the Cooroibah fire," he said.

Emergency services said the unpredictable blaze is burning in the vicinity of Beach Road and the First Cutting and may impact the Wallaby Track area.

It's the same area where three homes were destroyed by a fast-moving fire in 2017, about a kilometre from the Noosa North Shore campground.

Firefighters extinguish spot fires in the suburb of Noosa North Shore.
Firefighters extinguish spot fires in the suburb of Noosa North Shore.
AAP

Manager Leesa Downie said while many people had chosen to sit out the firestorm at the council's evacuation centre on Wallace Drive, she had headed to the local RSL for lunch.

"There's a pokie promotion on, my daughter's here too and she's got a jackpot so the machine is going off its head over there," she said.

"There's aircon, food and pokies, what more do you want?

"I'm safe, my house not so much but you get that. Nothing I can do about it now," she said.

Meanwhile, residents of an isolated riverside suburb in Noosa have been evacuating via ferry as more than 60 fires burn around the state of Queensland.

A "leave now" warning has been issued for Noosa North Shore, on the northern banks of the Noosa River, where a ferry is the sole escape route.

"People leaving the area should take the Noosa River Ferry to Moorindil Street," the fire service said.

A number of homes have been destroyed by bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland.
A number of homes have been destroyed by bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland.
AAP

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 14 homes have been lost around the state.

"Now is not the time to be complacent, the conditions are of concern to us," she said.

A severe fire danger warning is in place for a large swathe of southern Queensland, with soaring temperatures and thunderstorms expected on Wednesday.

Acting Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commission Michael Wassing said, "we've got another tough day today and there is an extended forecast that we are not out the woods by any means".

In addition to Noosa North Shore, other "leave now" warnings are for Kilkivan and for a large fire burning in difficult terrain near the five-star Spicers Peak Lodge on the Southern Downs.

That fire is now burning between containment lines and is not directly impacting properties.

queensland fires
QFES

Authorities are most concerned about the sheer size and number of fires burning in parched land that is difficult to access.

There are several fires west of the Gold Coast, including in the Scenic Rim, that officials are anxiously watching.

 

WA blazes raze homes

A bushfire that reportedly destroyed two homes and damaged two others in Geraldton in Western Australia's Mid West region has been contained, but a separate blaze north of the town remains at the highest alert level.

An emergency warning for Utakarra has been downgraded to a 'watch and act' alert, but it remains in place for coastal Glenfield and neighbouring Drummond Cove.

Mayor Shane Van Styn said he had been told about property losses at Utakarra but they were yet to be officially confirmed.

The Utakarra blaze is not yet controlled, and there is still a possible threat to lives and homes, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services says.

Mr Van Styn said he had not heard of any injuries.

He is concerned strong, hot winds could drive the fire in Drummond Cove towards houses if it was not contained.

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