Queensland fires emergency flares up on Sunshine Coast, residents urged to evacuate
By Rebeka Powell, staff, Sat 9 Nov 2019
A large, volatile bushfire on the Sunshine Coast has been returned to emergency advice level for two areas near Noosa as more than 50 fires burn across Queensland.
A fire burning at Cobraball, south-west of Yeppoon in central Queensland, has also been upgraded to an emergency level.
The fire is currently burning near Bungundarra Road, Mount Rae Road, Woodbury Road, Norpine Road and Woodbine Road.
The warning comes as a state of fire emergency has been declared across 42 Queensland communities.
Emergency crews have evacuated more people as the bushfire threat flares again at Cooroibah-Ringtail Creek and Noosa North Shore.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) said at 12:30pm the fire continued to burn in the Cooroibah and Tewantin areas and was expected to affect the Noosa North Shore.
QFES said residents in McKinnon Drive between Tronson Road and Louis Brazzo Drive, including Goshawk Lane, Riverpark Drive, Boreen Street, Cootharaba Street, Bundoora Street, Eulama Street, Teewah Street and Mooyour Street, should evacuate in a southerly direction along McKinnon Drive.
One home at the Cooroibah fire front and two sheds have been destroyed by an intense bushfire threatening the town of Tewantin.
Police have confirmed more areas are being evacuated, on top of the thousands already who had left Noosa North Shore, Tewantin and Cooroibah overnight.
Rural crews from as far away as Rockhampton and Fraser Island have now arrived to relieve exhausted crews.
'The danger is still very real'
Superintendent Rob Graham said 6,000 people had left 4,900 homes from Tewantin, Lake Cooroibah and Noosa North Shore.
Tewantin residents have been allowed to return home but others across the Sunshine Coast have been told they will not be able to return on Saturday night.
Only one home at Lake Cooroibah had been destroyed and the owner had been informed.
Superintendent Graham said he understood people were anxious to get back, but urged them to be patient.
"It's not yet safe Ã¢â¬â there are still spot fires all over the affected area," he said.
"Please don't try to return to your house until authorities have advised it's safe to do so Ã¢â¬â the danger is still very real.
"As the sun started to come up and temperatures started to rise, conditions started to get volatile and quite variable again."
It could be several days before thousands of residents who were forced to evacuate on the Sunshine Coast will be allowed to return home.
Wind change creates tricky conditions
Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecaster Dean Narramore said a wind change affecting the Sunshine Coast had created tricky conditions for firefighters.
"[There is a] battle between the south-westerly winds and the south-easterly change coming up," he said.
"For those who are to the north or north-west of that fire around Tewantin definitely watch out for those wind changes coming and also for those fires in inland parts of the south-east coastal districts along the range."
Overnight about 2,500 people from 400 homes were evacuated from Cooroibah in the Noosa Shire and a firefighter aged in his 50s is in hospital with a broken leg suffered while fighting the blaze.
At its peak overnight, the Cooroibah fire front stretched 200 metres across and 20 metres high.
QFES spokesman Kevin Reeding said one home had been destroyed at Tewantin, along with two other structures.
"Loss of life, we haven't had any, which is fantastic news," he said.
"We have had some firefighters with some injuries from broken legs to minor lacerations."
West of the Sunshine Coast, Jimna, a township of 90 people, was evacuated on Friday.
Mayor Graeme Lehmann said it was not yet safe for people to return to their homes.
A fleet of fire trucks had stayed behind to defend the town as the fire burned in a forestry area.
"With these winds that we're having, you don't know how fast that fire's going to travel," Cr Lehmann said.
"It's a lot cooler than what it was yesterday, but there's a lot of smoke of course.
"It'd nearly have to be a miracle for a storm to come along and put the fire out, but we can only pray that will happen."
An evacuation centre has been set up in the Kilcoy memorial hall.
'Human shield' to protect nursing home
More than 100 residents from a nursing home threatened by fire at Tewantin overnight were evacuated.
The Queensland Ambulance Service said some of the patients from Noosa Care Carramar nursing home were taken to hospital, while others went to family or friends.
Emergency personnel formed a human shield to protect a second aged care facility in the area that could not be evacuated.
Police Senior Sergeant Steve Hall said emergency personnel protected almost 400 residents at the facility who could not be evacuated.
"We had police ensconced into those centres and we had fire taskforces around the centres to ensure that any fires that threatened the centres could be suppressed straight away," he said.
Four evacuation centres have been set up Ã¢â¬â at the Girraween Sports Complex, the Cooroy Library, Noosa Leisure Centre and The J Noosa.
Senior Sergeant Hall said checks were being made before residents would be allowed to return to their homes.
"At this point we have confirmed one residential dwelling destroyed and a number of sheds mainly in the Cooroibah area. No damage in the Tewantin area at this point," he said.
Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said he was aware of at least one property damaged in the blaze and a number of sheds and vehicles.
"But given the ferocity yesterday Ã¢â¬Â¦ that's a pretty incredible outcome," he said.
"I think when eventually the areas are opened up and people can see how close these fires came to property, they'll be aware of what an incredible job the firefighting team did, and what a fantastic job the police are still doing to keep the community safe."
Cooroibah resident Herb Pavey was waiting to see what happened to his home after he evacuated on Friday.
"We're clean but we have a council reserve on the back of us and if the fire comes up through there it would really roar through, which I think it would but I may be wrong. We won't know till we get home," he said.
Corroibah resident Ian Hurley said fires had come close to his property before but this one forced him to flee.
"I've been around fires but not like this Ã¢â¬Â¦ we had to get out of the house and get whatever we could and leave," he said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged evacuated residents to be patient and to stay away from the area until it is safe to return.
"We don't want people going home yet until we've done the scans to make sure that we're definitely sure that it's safe," she said.
"As we know, these fires can change and move quickly, it's very dry at the moment and the winds are going to pick up this afternoon."
Gold Coast hinterland fire downgraded
On the Gold Coast, the warning level has been downgraded from an emergency to advice level for a fire at Lower Beechmont in the hinterland on Saturday morning.
About 70 homes in the area have been evacuated by police and firefighters with about 50 people taking refuge in the Bicentennial Centre at Nerang.
QFES Inspector Neil Dover said the Lower Beechmont fire had destroyed one shed but no people had been injured or homes damaged.
"Firefighters have been fighting the fire at the edge of the properties along the roadways and at this stage have managed to protect all properties," he said.
"This fire has been burning for some time now. It is just that over that last day it has managed to encroach residential properties.
"We are expecting conditions that aren't as severe as yesterday but still causing problems for our crews in the area but we will be maintaining a prominence in the area to combat any fire as it approaches residences."
Rural Fire Service (RFS) spokesman Alan Gillespie said no homes had been damaged but a number of outlying buildings had been destroyed.
"We currently have two water bombing helicopters in there at the moment hitting the fire front," he said.
"I was also a little bit concerned about a spot over to the south Ã¢â¬â that is in pretty rugged territory Ã¢â¬â so we are water bombing that as well and we are going to put one of our specialist remote area fire teams in to there to mop that up."
BOM forecaster Sam Campbell said conditions were expected to improve on Monday but that relief could be short-lived.
"The fire dangers are looking like they will deteriorate again on the Wednesday," he said.
"We will see another trough coming through from the west, temperatures shooting up to about 33 degrees around the coast Ã¢â¬â 35 over inland parts Ã¢â¬â and winds picking up again unfortunately.
"So some relief on the Monday but then fire dangers deteriorating as we head towards mid-next week."
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