Woodgate bushfire threat dampened by rain after locals urged to leave their homes

12 March 2019

Published by https://www.abc.net.au/

AUSTRALIA – Rain has eased the fire threat near the coastal community of Woodgate, south of Bundaberg, after authorities earlier urged locals to leave their homes as a large bushfire closed the main road in and out of town.

At 4:30pm, the Burrum Coast National Park fire was burning between the railway corridor and Woppis Road, Goodwood, travelling south towards Isis River.

Earlier, the conditions had prompted authorities to close Woodgate Road, but the road has since been reopened.

People in the area between the railway corridor and Woppis Road had earlier been advised to leave towards Goodwood, with residents outside the area advised not to return.

But Queensland Fire and Emergency Service has updated their advice, saying residents east of Woppis Road and in the Woodgate township are not under direct threat at this time.

Acting brigade support officer Dave Morton said 23 crews had been fighting the uncontained fire.

“We’re just re-establishing control lines after a breach late yesterday afternoon from very strong winds,” he said.

“It means we’ve got crews that are just making sure that the fire can be contained.”

Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk said people in the south-east needed to take extra care.

“As we know we are in extreme fire conditions in some parts of our state. We have an unprecedented heatwave at the moment,” she said.

“I please need all Woodgate residents to listen to the fire authorities today. Your safety and your families is absolutely paramount.”

Bundaberg deputy mayor Bill Trevor, who represents the Woodgate community, said he was thankful for the efforts of those fighting the blaze.

“I’ve got to take my hat off to all of the volunteers from all the brigades, not only the Woodgate brigade but brigades from all around the region,” he said.

“A lot of the guys have been out there for a few days now and obviously they are getting tired. We’re really grateful that so many people are volunteering and taking the time to assist when needed.”

Woodgate General Store owner Rose McKeown has been feeding hungry emergency services crews since the bushfire broke out on Sunday.

“The fire brigade and the volunteers here have been great and we’re trying to work with them, making sure they’ve got plenty of drink and food,” Ms McKeown said.

“I’ve been offering them free coffees early in the morning when they come through so that might give them a bit of a boost because it’s nice of them to come and help our boys.”

Possible thunderstorms are forecast this afternoon north of Gympie, which could impact the fire.

Cr Trevor said the rain would be welcome for firefighters and graziers alike.

“Hopefully some of those thunderstorms might come through a bit further to the east tonight and I think we could all put our hands up for some good soaking rain,” he said.

“With the weather conditions that we’ve had over the next four or five months to lose feed at this stage of the year heading towards winter would be devastating to any grazier.”

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