UPDATE, Wednesday 2.45pm:

EMERGENCY services have declared the Black Snake fire area west of Gympie a disaster area, giving police the authority to insist stubborn local residents evacuate their homes and get to safety immediately.

Police are now in the process of doorknocking about 20 properties in the fire zone and believe about 30 people will be evacuated.

The level of danger escalated to Leave Now just before midday for residents looking to self-evacuate - they were told to travel along Thornside Road on to Upper Widgee Road and heading towards Gympie.

A separate Prepare to Leave warning was issued for Richardson Road, Mengle Road and Mariner Road, Black Snake, with the south-westerly fire expected to impact those roads.

But authorities have now declared the area a disaster zone which gives residents no choice - they must evacuate.


A THINGS take a sinister turn on the Black Snake Range this afternoon, the cavalry fighting to save homes between Widgee and Kilkivan has been strengthened by 13 firefighters from New Zealand.

The squad flew in to Queensland on Tuesday night and undertook training on the Sunshine Coast before driving up to Gympie and then out to Widgee this morning.

With the winds and temperature pickin gup today to contributed to the severe fire danger, the humidity is expected to plunge below 10 per cent, creating and dire situation for firefighters and home owners in danger areas.

A convoy of fire fighting units and ambulances has headed out to Widgee about an hour ago, sirens blaring and fresh firefighters eager to help their Aussie “cousins”.

New Zealand firefighter Mike Donovan said before heading out to Widgee this morning he was happy to be here.

“We love helping out our cousins from across the ditch,” he said.

“We are pretty rearing to go to lend a hand. The terrain is not that different from New Zealand only hotter. We are well equipped, well experienced and well trained.”

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