Town evacuated as super tankers attack Fraser Island fire

Dozens of residents have been forced to flee their homes on Fraser Island's east coast as the catastrophic bushfire continued to rip through dense bushland, bearing down on the township of Happy Valley.

An emergency alert issued at 3.30am Monday warns the bushfire is approaching Happy Valley and was expected to impact the town around 7am.

NSW Rural Fire Service air tankers are this morning prepared to take off from RAAF air base in Richmond to assist with QFES efforts in fighting the fires on Fraser Island that have been burning for over a month now.

 

The NSW Rural Fire Service large air tanker prepares to fly to Queensland to fight the Fraser Island bushfire. Picture: NSW RFS
The NSW Rural Fire Service large air tanker prepares to fly to Queensland to fight the Fraser Island bushfire. Picture: NSW RFS

As of 8am this morning the large fire is still travelling south east towards Happy Valley, aided by now moderate northerly winds.

This morning crews will be back burning around the perimeter of the township, assisted by aircraft, to reduce the expected impact on the community.

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

Bushfires have been burning on Fraser Island for several weeks. Picture: Sarah Marshall
Bushfires have been burning on Fraser Island for several weeks. Picture: Sarah Marshall

Authorities have advised anyone still in the Happy Valley area to leave the area immediately via the beach's southeastern exit and proceed south to the Eurong township.

"The fire is expected to have a significant impact on the community," an emergency alert issued at 3.30am today reads.

"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.:

About 50 people were in the area immediately affected by the fires, a Queensland Fire and Emergency Service spokeswoman said.

Some of the residents were working alongside firefighters to save the town.

"Leaving immediately is the safest option, as it will soon be too dangerous to drive," a Queensland Fire and Emergency Services warning states.

"Any persons in the vicinity of Happy Valley township should leave the area heading to the Eastern Beach and head south to Eurong Resort."

At 8pm Sunday QFES was warning residents to leave immediately, and not to expect a firefighter at their door if the blaze reaches the town.

"A large fire is travelling in a south easterly direction towards Happy Valley township on Fraser Island," QFES wrote in a statement.

"It is expected to impact Happy Valley township around midnight. The fire is expected to have a significant IMPACT on the community."

"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."

FRASER ISLAND Queensland

 

Most residents on the island's western side voluntarily left for the mainland last week.

However, a change in wind direction late last week has pushed the blaze closer to the eastern side, away from Lake McKenzie and the ancient Valley of the Giants rainforest towards Happy Valley.

Happy Valley Community Association released a statement on Sunday, saying the that area was well prepared. "The township is ready for the ember attacks predicted to arrive Sunday afternoon, and continue for the next few days," a statement from the group read.

There are fewer than 200 permanent residents on the island, it's understood.

Police issued an emergency declaration under the Public Safety Preservation Act for the area late yesterday afternoon. The Happy Valley township is between two large sand ridges, halfway up the east coast of Fraser Island, with about 50 dwellings, including the Fraser Island Retreat, which features accommodation, restaurant, shop and bar.

General short-term accommodation sees the township's population swell from 20 to more than 400 in peak period.

More than 90 firefighters, 30 trucks and almost two dozen aircraft are fighting the blaze, with no reprieve in sight until at least the middle of next week.

The fire danger rating sits at "severe". More than 82,000ha of the island has been burnt, equating to about 50 per cent.

An inquiry was last week called for by the state government, after serious concerns were raised about whether the blaze could have been better managed or even prevented.

 

Originally published as Emergency declared on Fraser Island as dozens flee



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