Fire sets off live ammunition at Camp Kerr

A LARGE bushfire continued to threaten Tin Can Bay last night after burning through hundreds of inaccessible hectares near the township and setting off live ammunition at the Camp Kerr defence base.

As thousands of Australians remained displaced yesterday by fires and catastrophic weather conditions, the Gympie region reached a less deadly 37.6 degrees and was buffeted by north-westerly winds gusting up to 25 knots.

Firefighters from Tin Can Bay and throughout the region yesterday and on Tuesday battled some of the worst fire conditions some had ever seen to keep the blaze within containment lines south-west of the town.

The fire with multiple fronts had been slowly burning since last Friday, but took off on Tuesday with the arrival of the warm, gusty northerlies, which fanned it into a potential killer.

A huge smoke drift yesterday shrouded Tin Can Bay in a thick, white haze and the source of the smoke was visible as a thicker, darker plume billowing into the sky when viewed from the marina looking back up Snapper Creek.

Tin Can Bay fire warden Desley Goldsworthy said senior army personnel at Camp Kerr were not allowing any media on to the base or near the blaze as there were "too many bities" going off: ammunition exploding in the heat of the blaze.

She said it was unknown how exactly the fire first started, but that it was possibly a camp fire or a lightning strike near Kauri Creek.

"We are still unsure at this stage," she said.

"It has been slowly working its way south but the northerlies came in yesterday (Tuesday) morning and pushed the fire around quickly.

"The fire conditions today (Wednesday) are really bad; possibly the worst you could get."

Ms Goldsworthy and rural firefighters met with army and forestry representatives on Tuesday when the adverse weather conditions set in.

They agreed to begin control burning yesterday but Ms Goldsworthy then decided to start on Tuesday night, which, in the face of yesterday's deteriorating weather conditions, she was glad she had done.

"This is a very unusual fire because the army has burnt various areas out over the years," she said.

This, combined with the mixed vegetation it has burnt through - from swampy tidal flats to low heath land and wallum - means the fire burns rapidly for an hour or so and then slows right down again.

It is believed to have burnt down to the waterline at Snapper Creek near the Emperor St end of Tin Can Bay on Tuesday night.

"My main concern is to protect Tin Can Bay," Ms Goldsworthy said yesterday.

The fire was burning within containment lines yesterday afternoon and no structures were under threat, but a council grader was strengthening firebreaks near Tin Can Bay Rd in case the blaze did break through.

A large amount of smoke is still visible in the Tin Can Bay, Rainbow Beach and Gympie areas and motorists are urged to exercise caution and drive to conditions. People with respiratory conditions are advised to stay indoors, keep windows closed and also keep their medication close by.

There is currently no threat to property, however, if residents feel their home is under threat they should phone 000 immediately. The region is in for another hot day today with north-westerly winds.


WEDNESDAY: Six Queensland Fire and Rescue Service crews continue to monitor a large bushfire burning in an inaccessible area near Tin Can Bay.

The fire, which is moving in a south-westerly direction, has been burning since Friday in the Wide Bay Military Training Reserve.

The fire gained momentum after winds sprung up on Tuesday afternoon and swung to the north.

A fixed wing aircraft is being used to conduct air reconnaissance.

A grader is pushing firebreaks near the Tin Can Bay golf course in case the fire jumps containment lines and heads towards the coastal town. 

A large amount of smoke is visible in the Tin Can Bay, Rainbow Beach and Gympie areas and motorists are urged to exercise caution and drive to conditions.

People with respiratory conditions are advised to stay indoors, keep windows closed and also keep their medication close by.

There is currently no threat to property, however, if residents feel their home is under threat they should ring Triple Zero (000) immediately. 

Gympie Times

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