Firefighters work to control a blaze near Agnes Water.
Firefighters work to control a blaze near Agnes Water.

Residents urged to leave as fires take hold

UPDATE:  QUEENSLAND will be lucky to make it through the day without lives lost as firefighters prepare to battle the worst bushfire conditions in the state's history, authorities have warned.

More than 1000 people have left their homes near the Deepwater fire, south of Agnes Water on the state's central coast, as of this morning.

However, many others have ignored pleas to leave and some residents are in the direct path of the inferno, even after police banged on their doors last night.

At least 50 people are refusing to leave Rules Beach, north of Bundaberg, with only hours before an unpredicted bushfire is expected to sweep through

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said they were risking death by staying put.

Baffle Creek is now in the firing line of the devastating bushfire.
Baffle Creek is now in the firing line of the devastating bushfire.

Premier Annatascia Palaszczuk said the group will have a one-hour window to use a small access bridge and road to leave.

That bridge and road is expected to be closed as conditions heat up about midday.

"You need to leave now," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"The beach is not going to be safe.

"The window for them to leave is closing fast. We expect a wind change and the fire is increasing dramatically."

"We are expecting a bad day, there's no easy way to say that," he told ABC radio this morning.

"What we're expecting in Queensland today is the kind of conditions (that other states) have seen in the past - these are the kind of days where people could lose their lives."

The firestorm would likely create "dead man zones" which would be impossible to survive, even in a car.

"That's basically a space that you get into where the humidity, the temperature, the fire creates its own weather cell and it becomes an area that is almost unlivable for a short period of time," Mr Crawford said.

"It's the kind of conditions that could consume a vehicle very fast ... if we get through today and we haven't had them we will be so fortunate it isn't funny."

Fires burning at Netherdale near Finch Hatton where residents have been evacuated.
Fires burning at Netherdale near Finch Hatton where residents have been evacuated.

More than 80 fires are burning across the state, but the Deepwater fire and another at Dalrymple, west of Mackay, are of the most concern.

The extremely large and intense fire at Deepwater is expected to impact Baffle Creek, Rules Beach and Oyster Creek this morning.

"We are just asking those residents that are choosing to stay in place, we are trying to advise them that their safest option is not to be there," QFES Assistant Commissioner Gary McCormack told Nine Network.

A supplied image obtained on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, shows a bushfire in central Queensland threatening homes in Deepwater and Baffle Creek. Picture: AAP Image/QLD Fire & Emergency
A supplied image obtained on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, shows a bushfire in central Queensland threatening homes in Deepwater and Baffle Creek. Picture: AAP Image/QLD Fire & Emergency

"We cannot guarantee that we will hold that fire under the conditions that we are currently experiencing. So their safest option is to not be with their property. Life preservation must be their highest priority at this stage."

Interstate crews arrived yesterday to help fight the inferno in central Queensland that's destroyed homes and burnt through at least 20,000 hectares of bush and farmland since Saturday.

Eight aircraft, including a massive water-bombing plane, which can dump 15,000 litres at a time, are also fighting the fire.

More crews from South Australia are expected to arrive today, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has indicated she may seek assistance from the army.

Fire crews from the Wartburg rural fire station prepare  to hit the road. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Fire crews from the Wartburg rural fire station prepare to hit the road. Picture: Mark Cranitch

6.30am: RESIDENTS TOLD TO LEAVE AS FIRESTORM APPROACHES

QUEENSLAND is bracing for unprecedented fire conditions today, as more than 80 fires burn around the state.

The communities of Deepwater and surrounds on the Central Queensland coast were told to leave immediately as the bushfire continued to advance.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services this morning updated their warning to "leave immediately" for residents of Deepwater, Baffle Creek, Rules Beach and Oyster Creek.

"Leaving immediately is the safest option, as it will soon be too dangerous to drive," the warning said.

"If you are not in the area, do not return, as conditions are too dangerous."

The QFES said "an extremely large and intense fire is travelling in a south-westerly direction towards Muller Road. It is expected to impact Baffle Creek, Rules Beach and Oyster Creek in the coming hours. The fire is expected to have a significant impact on the community.

"All Deepwater, Baffle Creek, Rules Beach and Oyster Creek residents should evacuate in a westerly direction towards Miriam Vale using Tableland Road and Fingerboard Road.

"The crossing at Hills Road, Coast Road and Oyster Creek Road, Baffle Creek was under threat, but firefighters have managed to prevent the fire spreading to the crossing at this time.

"Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing. The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path.

"Fire crews may not be able to protect your property. You should not expect a firefighter at your door: act now.

"Power, water, and mobile phone service may be lost and road conditions may become very dangerous over the next several hours."

The charred entrance to a property at Deepwater. Picture: Mark Cranitch
The charred entrance to a property at Deepwater. Picture: Mark Cranitch

The QFES this morning reissued a warning for Dalrymple Heights, telling residents to leave now if they didn't have a bushfire survival plan.

As at 5am the "large fire" was travelling from Boons Road towards Chelmans Road, north of Dalrymple Heights. It continues to impact Snake Road and Chelmans Road. The fire could have a significant impact on the community, the QFES warned.

Fire crews worked throughout the night to protect properties along Snake Road and Chelmans Road and will be on scene again today but the QFES told residents not to expect firefighters at their door and encouraged residents to leave.

It comes after the Premier yesterday urged affected residents to leave and briefed every Queensland mayor ahead of extreme conditions expected today.

Mark Reiser with joey Emily (10 months) had to evacuate his Deepwater property. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Mark Reiser with joey Emily (10 months) had to evacuate his Deepwater property. Picture: Mark Cranitch

 

"I know that some people may not want to leave their homes. I know that this is an extremely difficult situation but I need you to please, please, listen to authorities and you must leave immediately," Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Tuesday afternoon.

Extreme conditions are expected across the state on Wednesday as the heatwave continues.

Of particular concern, is a trough moving from the west towards the coast.

"That's generating thunderstorms and lightning, but not a lot of rain unfortunately. So those dry lightning strikes are a chance to ignite further fires as it moves towards the coast," State Manager Queensland at Bureau of Meteorology Bruce Gunn said.

"It's doing that inland (Tuesday) and closer to the coast (on Wednesday). There's drier air behind that trough and that just increases the fire danger along with the instability creates a very potent and dangerous situation."

QFES Inspector Andrew Sturgess said they were unprecedented conditions in Queensland.

"We have a combination of dangerous elements aligning (on Wednesday). Wind changes, instability, firestorm, lots of spotting ahead of fires, these are not any way just a bad day, these are record conditions, these are extreme conditions the likes that we have never seen before in Queensland."

The government has made the rare step of briefing every mayor from around the state, in anticipation for these dangerous conditions on Wednesday.

Devastation caused by the bushfires at Deepwater. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
Devastation caused by the bushfires at Deepwater. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said 107 staff from NSW had been deployed in the Agnes Water area (Tuesday) and more help was on the way.

Residents of Finch Hatton, in the Pioneer Valley west of Mackay, were able to return to their homes about 9.30pm, as there was no longer any threat to properties. Fire crews will remain on scene overnight.

One hundred extra officers will arrive from NSW in the coming days, while Ms Carroll said 225 officers had been requested from elsewhere.

Road closure near Baffle Creek, which is in the firing line as the fires advance in a southewesterly direction. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
Road closure near Baffle Creek, which is in the firing line as the fires advance in a southewesterly direction. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

"What we have is the combination of the most horrendous conditions in the next 48 hours," she said.

"The combination of the climate, the heat, the fire is just absolutely horrendous.

"The heatwave is continuing past that for another few days. There is no rain in this, and there is no respite."

The weather bureau has forecast extreme heatwave conditions from Thursday Island down to Toowoomba.

Spotfires are springing up as a result of constantly changing wind conditions. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
Spotfires are springing up as a result of constantly changing wind conditions. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

Towns from the Northern Territory border to the east coast are forecast to experience temperatures above 40C through until Monday. Townsville recorded its hottest November day yesterday, at 41.7C.

As central Queensland's worst bushfire bore down on his property, Deepwater's Mark Reiser only had time to grab a photo of his kids and his little mate, Emily the joey.

Mr Reiser is one of more than 1500 people displaced from the community of Deepwater, about 60km north of Bundaberg, by unprecedented bushfires.

Students and teachers were last night forced to take shelter inside at classroom at Eungella Primary School after road closures.

Bushfires at Deepwater have razed building and destroyed property. Picture: Chris Clarke
Bushfires at Deepwater have razed building and destroyed property. Picture: Chris Clarke

 

Sixty firefighters from South Australia, plus Incident Management Team staff and a Commander will fly to Queensland today to assist with the ongoing bushfire threat across the state.

The South Australian firefighter contingent is expected to leave Adelaide Airport today afternoon.

 

A burnt out dwelling at Deepwater. Picture: Chris Clarke
A burnt out dwelling at Deepwater. Picture: Chris Clarke


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