Qld bracing for dangerous fire threat

Queensland firefighters are working frantically to strengthen containment lines and fire breaks as the state braces for the fire danger to again ramp up to severe levels.

The Bureau of Meteorology has warned conditions will become more dangerous as dry westerlies push extremely hot air across the state on Friday and heading into the weekend.

Many Queenslanders forced to flee their homes remain in limbo unable to return home.

As the fire threat deepens, there has been growing anger after a teenage boy was charged with lighting the Cobraball fire near Yeppoon that has burned for days in central Queensland.

A total of 36 structures – including 14 homes – have so far been destroyed by the massive blaze which is still burning.

“I think everyone is angry and disappointed,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters.

“Thankfully there were no lives lost, but it could have been a different story. I think parents need to sit down with their kids and talk about the consequences of their actions.”

Alerts remained in place for Black Snake, in the Gympie region, and the coastal towns of Woodgate and Buxton, south of Bundaberg, on Thursday afternoon.

In Black Snake, the large, slow-moving fire is burning near the Des Simpson Memorial and a wind change has sent the fire tracking in a northwesterly direction.

Crews will be backburning along the southeastern edge of the blaze, in the vicinity of Thornside Road and Upper Thornside Road.

The Woodgate blaze is burning near Woodgate Road and Woppis Road, travelling towards Walkers Point Road.

People in nearby Kinkuna have been told to leave as a fast-moving bushfire closes in, moving west toward Kinkuna Waters Estate.

There is a second warning for Buxton residents in the same area.

Residents of Noosa North Shore have been allowed to return home after being evacuated twice in one week.

More than 70 fires are burning across the state since the current crisis erupted a week ago.

While authorities keep a close eye on the bigger fires, exhausted crews face another challenge on Friday as the temperatures rise and the fire threat intensifies.

The weather bureau warns the westerlies will push extremely dry air back toward the coastal fringe bringing a low-intensity heatwave.

Severe isolated storms cells have also been forecast to potentially bring dry lightning which could ignite further fires.

“The story is one of very high fire dangers or severe fire danger ratings for the next three days over the weekend,” BOM forecaster Richard Wardell said.

A large fire is still burning in difficult terrain near the five-star Spicers Peak Lodge on the Southern Downs, but it is not directly impacting properties.

There are a number of fires between Brisbane and the NSW border, including in the Scenic Rim west of the Gold Coast.

© AAP 2019

Ambulance QLD

Two injured in unit ‘explosion’ in Southport

Two people have been injured in a blaze that broke out in a Southport unit block this morning.

Emergency services were called to an address on Blake Street around 8.00am, following reports of an explosion.

Two fire crews were able to extinguish the blaze quickly, and confirmed that no one was trapped inside the top-floor unit.

While paramedics have treated two people for injuries.

One person suffered minor burns to their legs, while the other was treated for breathing difficulties.

Police were also on scene.

Blood Donation

Closed donor centres threatening blood supplies

The Red Cross is calling on Aussies to roll up their sleeves and donate blood, as bush fires begin threatening supplies.

As blazes continue to burn across New South Wales and Queensland, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service has been forced to close its donor centres at Taree, Coffs Habour and Port Macquarie, and the pop-up centre at Byron Bay.

The closed centres account for around 15 percent of blood supplies, while New South Wales and Queensland make up over half of the nation’s blood supplies.

Blood Service spokesperson Helen Walsh said they were looking to the rest of the country to help fill the gaps and ensure blood supplies stay strong.

“Given the unpredictability of the fires, the reality is we’re unlikely to immediately know the full impact on donations until later in the week. We do know that we collect around 15 per cent of blood supplies for New South Wales in the areas where we have had to close our centres.

“In addition to the blood centre closures and with catastrophic fire warnings in place for much of the east coast, we are expecting to see an increase in donors needing to cancel their appointments at our Maitland, Newcastle and Gosford centres at a minimum.

“With blood being a critical resource, we simply cannot afford to take a wait and watch approach and are calling for donors to please roll up their sleeves, now, in order to bolster the nation’s blood stocks.”

She said the Blood Service would continue to monitor the situation in Queensland and will be prioritising the safety of donors and staff.

“We know that conditions could remain as dangerous as they are today right through to the weekend and are asking people outside the fire zones to donate if eligible and to encourage family and friends to roll up their sleeves and donate,” Ms Walsh said.

Appointments are available in unaffected areas. Call 13 14 95 or visit donateblood.com.au to find your nearest donor centre and book your appointment.

Police

Gold Coaster dead after falling from Surfers Paradise balcony

UPDATE @8.30AM | POLICE have confirmed a 22-year-old Gold Coaster has died, after falling from a balcony in Surfers Paradise overnight.

Emergency services rushed to an apartment building on Old Burleigh Road around 12.30am, following reports of the fall.

It was first thought the man made have been a New Zealand tourist, though it’s since been revealed he lived in Surfers Paradise.

His family back home in New Zealand have since been notified.

Police are now working on a report for the coroner, though have confirmed that the death is not being treated as suspicious.

It’s understood the man was with friends at the apartment at the time, and they will likely be involved in the investigation.

EARLIER @ 8.00AM | A man has died after falling from a balcony in Surfers Paradise overnight.

It happened on Old Burleigh Road just after midnight.

It’s understood the man was in his 20s, and was reportedly a New Zealand tourist.

Queensland Ambulance have confirmed they were called to the scene around 12.23am, following reports of a fall.

Though they did not transport anyone from the scene.

Police also confirmed they were called to the same address around 12.30am, though aren’t able to confirm details.

They have said that the death is not being treated as suspicious, and are still trying to notify the next of kin.

Officials warn against bush fire complacency, with conditions set to deteriorate again

Hinterland residents are being warned not to become complacent when it comes to bush fires, with more ‘perfect fire conditions’ on the way.

While the fire burning in Lower Beechmont is still currently at ‘advice’ level, some residents were forced to evacuate over the weekend.

Water bombing aircraft and heavy machinery were brought in again yesterday to try and contain the blaze, though there are fears it will spark up again mid week.

Mayor Tom Tate has been in meetings with the disaster management unit throughout the weekend, and has a warning to locals who may think the danger is over for now.

“Avoid taking risks, don’t do any mowing or power tools, those sparks can set off a bush fire.

“I have to say QFES, the fire fighters, both professional and rural, are working very well to avert any damage to people and property.

“Right now, it’s looking like Wednesday is when conditions are going to be at their worst.

“We have sent dozers up there to cut tracks and fire breaks in strategic areas, together with the defence, to make sure the fire will be contained on Wednesday.

“Make sure you got plenty of water, listen to the radio, and really those important documentation start putting them in a safe, or areas that don’t burn.

“Many people have a computer, start uploading those documentations into the cloud so you’ve got a keepsake there, your photos and the like.

“So preparedness is key and we’re bracing ourselves, because there’s no sign of rain for three days.

Matthew Mulroney from QFES told 1029 Hot Tomato’s Flan, Emily Jade and Christo that the weekend has been a particular battle, though crews are hoping the Lower Beechmont blaze may ‘behave itself’ now.

“Our crews – to be totally honest – our crews are tired, but they’re still getting in and doing the job.

“We’re just asking people to prepare themselves, be aware of what’s going on, and have a bush fire survival plan in place, so that they know what they’re going to do and where they’re going to go, if they’re impacted by fire,” Mr Mulroney said.

“Lower Beechmont really gave us some trouble the other night – we lost some sheds and things like that – luckily no houses were lost.

“But that one is still burning up in the back country, up in the hills, it’s really difficult to get to.

“We had water bombing aircraft in their yesterday doing a fantastic job to support our crews.

“Hopefully that one’s going to behave itself now, though as the Mayor said the conditions are going to get worse,” Mr Mulroney said.

According to the Bureau’s forecast, temperatures will soar back into the 30s mid week, and again this coming weekend.

Coupled with low humidity and strong winds, it could escalate fire conditions in the hinterland.

Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen provided an update of the situation further west late yesterday, saying there are still difficult conditions on the way and that people really need to stay alert.

“The week ahead still looks quite severe.

“Particularly bad conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday and now we’re being told possibly into next weekend as well,” Mr Christensen said.

“At the moment, it is the time for everyone to be very alert, to follow the instructions of the QFES checklist, to know your fire preparedness plan and to know your ability to defend your property or the need for you to plan to leave.

“Again I urge people – the learning that I repeatedly refer to in life – one of the failings of human nature is that we have a tendency to overestimate our capabilities and underestimate risk.

“So when you’re doing your fire readiness plan, please consider that,” Mr Christensen said in his video.

Gold Coast Health has also issued a warning, particularly for residents with breathing difficulties.

“Fine smoke particles can cause health problems like; itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation, a runny nose and illnesses like bronchitis,” the warning reads.

“They can also aggravate existing lung conditions, like chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Symptoms can occur for several days after smoke is inhaled.

Residents should:
– Close windows and doors
– Use fans or air conditioning on recirculating mode to keep cool
– Keep medications close by if suffering a respiratory condition
– Be vigilant in taking prescribed medications for existing lung conditions.

“Residents should call Triple Zero (000) if you are having health problems or believe your property is under threat,” the Facebook post reads.