Helpless animals left to fend for themselves as families flee fires

Many families forced to urgently evacuate as out-of-control fires raged towards their homes were left with no option but to set their animals free to fend for themselves.

Some shared photos to Facebook of horses they had no time to load onto floats, and others of dogs they weren’t able to collect from home or that escaped in the chaos of their evacuation.

One woman who had to leave her home in Cooroibah, on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, on Friday afternoon uploaded photos of her chestnut horse Huggie, and buckskin, Kahn.

“I did not have time to get them. I have let them free. I hope they are okay. If anyone has any information please message me,” she wrote in a distressing post to a local community page.

Panicked parents of dogs appealed for others closer to their homes to rescue their helpless four-legged friends trapped inside their houses.

Kahn and Huggie were released from their paddock as their owners fled. This dog was found on Tarina Street in Noosa Heads. Source: Facebook

Another evacuated family based in Cooroibah said two horses, Effie and Cody, were running free in the fires and asked for people to keep their eyes out for them.

“In the coming days if anyone finds them let us know,” they wrote in a post.

Someone else made an urgent appeal for someone with a car and float to remove her horses from the fire zone. A later update stated she had to leave them behind when she was forced to flee as fires approached.

“Need to evacuate two miniature ponies from Cooroibah if anyone has a spare float or room in theirs,” another person wrote.

Several people opened their homes to strangers affected by fires, and offered to house them and their animals until they could return home.

A neighbour cut the fence to prevent the horses, Cody and Effy, being trapped. Source: Facebook

“If anyone needs to evacuate themselves or animals you are welcome to bring them to our place in Imbil we have large dog cages, horse paddocks, stables and two spare rooms for anyone in need. Stay safe everyone,” one woman offered.

People in the path of a bushfire on the Sunshine Coast have been warned they face a long and distressing night.

The fast-moving fire was keeping emergency services on their toes as the winds were changing direction, with police recommending that Old Tewantin residents evacuate. New Tewantin residents should also be on alert.

An exclusion zone was set up encompassing Louis Bazzo Drive south to Kimbah Court, and McKinnon Drive east to Lake Cooroibah Road, continuing along Noosa River waterway north to Boreen Point, then across to McKinnon Drive at Louis Bazzo Drive.

Giant plumes of smoke shown from the fires tearing through the Sunshine Coast. Source: Facebook

Conditions are very dangerous and firefighters warn they may be unable to stop the blaze advancing toward the community. 

“The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path,” the QFES said. 

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

More than 50 fires were burning on Friday afternoon in dry, windy and dangerous fire conditions.

Conditions were likely to improve later on Friday and early Saturday, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

“Today will be the peak of the worst fire dangers and conditions will ease tomorrow,” meteorologist Jess Gardner said on Friday. 

Shirl the red kelpie and Kipper the miniature Foxy bolted while their owners were evacuating from Jirrima Crescent on the Sunshine Coast.

“They will remain quite challenging as we continue to see a very, very dry air mass and some fairly fresh winds.”

Bushfires also burned across NSW, with 15 emergency warnings issued for blazes from the Blue Mountains to the Queensland border, and reports of property damage and people potentially trapped. 

More than 90 fires were burning on Friday night with NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons saying there were reports of “multiple community areas being impacted, loss, damage and destruction”.

There were 15 emergency warnings current after 8pm including at: Hillville, Long Flat, Crowdy Bay National Park, Shannon Vale, Tapin Tops National Park, Willi Willi, Tyringham, Clouds Creek State Forest, Wandsworth, Carrai Creek, Stockyard Flat, Torrington and Bora Ridge.

Massive dark smoke showed the enormous scale of the fires. Source: Facebook

-With AAP

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