Fire cuts power on North Stradbroke Island as blaze expected to burn for days

Fire cuts power on North Stradbroke Island as blaze expected to burn for days

04 January 2014

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Australia — STRADBROKE Island’s main township of Dunwich is on alert after a wind change at 5pm pushed the island’s bushfires in its direction.

As of 6pm, the large bushfire was still on the southwestern side of Alfred Martin Way, near the town.

Fire crews predict the blaze to begin moving in a northwesterly direction towards the town during the coming hours.

Dunwich residents have been warned to expect smoke and burning embers.

At 3.15pm residents and holidaymakers were still being told to prepare to evacuate in case their properties come under threat by the large, slow-moving bushfire.

The Watch and Act alert issued by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services remained in place for those on Mitchell Crescent, Illawong Crescent, Rainbow Crescent, Dickson Way and the Seven Mile S-bend.

QFES told 200 people who attended the community meeting at Dunwich it was confident it could contain the blaze.

Fire crews, however, were concerned about the effect of smoke and burning embers on Dunwich residents and properties.

Previously …

NORTH Stradbroke Island residents have been told to prepare to evacuate if the bushfire continues to threaten the outskirts of their community.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service said the Dunwich Community Hall would be made available for residents who choose not to relocate.

Those residents have been asked to park at the Dunwich Rugby League Football Oval and register with the State Emergency Service when they arrive.

The large slow-moving fire was burning bushland on the southwest of Alfred Martin Way about 12.15pm and the QFES said it was travelling in a south-easterly direction.

A wind change expected about 2pm may push the fire in a north-westerly direction toward homes and businesses along Mitchell Crescent, Illawong Crescent, Rainbow Crescent, Dickson Way and the Seven Mile S-bend.

Multiple strike streams are trying to contain the blaze but fire crews may not be able to protect every affected property.

SES volunteers are doorknocking in the area.

Earlier it was reported, NORTH Stradbroke Island residents and holidaymakers urged to remain vigilant as weather conditions fan the bushfire closer to their doorsteps.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services have released an advisory to Dunwich, Russell Island, Lamb Island, Peel Island and Macleay Island residents ahead of an expected wind change to the southeast from mid-afternoon.

The QFES is warning that the change of wind direction could blow smoke and burning embers across those areas.

Fire crews are encouraging residents to regularly check their properties for embers and if possible, to put out any small spot fires.

Smoke is likely to affect the mainland this afternoon.

Another community meeting will be held at 1pm at the Dunwich Community Hall, on the corner of Ballow Rd and Junner St.

Earlier it was reported, THIRTY fire crews and air operation teams will head to North Stradbroke Island this morning ahead of today’s forecasted heat wave.

Firefighters fought throughout Friday night to protect the northern end of the island from the bushfire that has scorched more than 3500ha since Sunday.

Crews extended containment lines and back burnt across Martin Way near Enterprise Rd.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services will continue safeguarding the Mt Hardgrave area ahead of a change in wind conditions on Saturday afternoon.

The Department of Community Safety said in a statement that the fire was “contained but not under control”.

A smoke haze is expected to still affect the surrounding areas until early next week.

Earlier it was reported: THE large bushfire burning on North Stradbroke Island has jumped containment lines, forcing authorities to evacuate more people.

Residents within the immediate vicinity west of Enterprise Rd and south of the airport where the fire is burning have been asked to leave.

The fire was burning towards an area called Blakesly Slip.

Multiple fire crews were responding to the fire after it jumped the containment lines this afternoon.

There was currently no threat to property but a wind change could endanger people within the area.

A Queensland Fire and Rescue spokeswoman said people were being asked to leave as a precaution.

Earlier, water bombing on the island was suspended after the helicopter being used in the operation malfunctioned and dropped the bucket into the ocean.

The helicopter was collecting water from the ocean about 20 to 30m off the coastline when it malfunctioned.

A Department of Community Safety spokeswoman said firefighters on the ground were continuing to fight the flames.

It is not yet known what went wrong to cause the bucket to break.

“People should be aware we are seeking another recourse at the moment and we just want people to be aware that the chopper is just one of a number of fire appliances we’re using,” the spokeswoman said.

The helicopter is contracted to the department and the spokeswoman could not say when the helicopter dropped the bucket.

Earlier, it was reported light rain on North Stradbroke Island overnight did little to quell the out-of-control bushfire that has been raging since Sunday.

Rugged terrain around Eighteen Mile Swamp has prevented fire crews from containing the blaze, and an observation aircraft will be deployed later today to help crews map out a plan of attack.

Bad weather conditions have fuelled two more spot fires on the island.

One of the spot fires is north of Alfred Martin Way and if not controlled, could affect Mt Hardgrave air traffic infrastructure.

Firefighters said they plan to contain the blaze by back-burning.

The second fire is near Canaipa Passage and crews will consider extinguish plans today.

Four strike teams and other resources are being sent to the island to help fortify containment lines ahead of the weekend, when temperatures and wind conditions are expected to worsen.

No more campgrounds have been threatened by the fire, but smoke and embers would have posed a threat to holidaymakers had Main Beach not been closed.

The fire has so far scorched 3500ha, but there have been no reports of major property damage.

Residents and holidaymakers can attend three meetings on the island today that will update them on the bushfire.

Meeting times:

12pm-1pm – Dunwich Community Hall, cnr Ballow Road and Junner Street, Dunwich

2pm-3pm – Point Lookout Community Hall, East Coast Road, Point Lookout

4pm-5pm – Amity Point Hall, 16 Ballow Road, Amity Point.

Earlier, The Courier-Mail reported North Stradbroke Island is expected to continue to burn into early next week after yesterday cutting power to more than 4000 people and ripping through campsites that were evacuated just a day earlier.

The large bushfire, that was last night burning across more than 2500ha, was fuelled by strong winds on Wednesday night that fanned the flames through several campsites at Main Beach, including at 18 Mile swamp.

Yesterday firebombing helicopters were brought in to douse flames that jumped containment lines as firefighters battled to push the fire towards the beach.

Extra crews will be brought in today to help strength containment lines with conditions expected to worsen on the weekend with higher temperatures, increased wind speeds and drier conditions forecast.

“We are using the opportunity where we can to do back burning in preparation for the wind shift that is predicted for late Saturday,” Queensland Fire and Rescue acting superintendent Arthur Torrance said.

“We’re trying to force it back to the ocean and away from any populated areas.”

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