'Threat to all lives': Popular tourist island braces for 'vengeful' bushfire

Brianne Tolj
·3-min read

Residents have been urged to flee their homes as a dangerous bushfire that has been burning for months threatens a town on the world heritage-listed Fraser Island.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services issued the emergency warning for those living in Happy Valley on Monday morning.

They have also warned residents of the Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village to enact their bushfire survival plans and prepare to leave.

“Leaving immediately is the safest option, as it will soon be too dangerous to drive,” the QFES wrote on Facebook.

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

The blaze on Fraser Island.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services issued the emergency warning for those living in Happy Valley on Monday morning. Source: QFES

Those who are unable to leave their home in Happy Valley have been told to follow their bush survival plan and seek shelter in the safest area.

Residents who may have left have been told not to return because “conditions are too dangerous”.

Firefighters are currently back burning around the perimeter of Happy Valley and pilots are dropping water onto the flames out of planes.

The NSW Rural Fire Service large air tanker, the Marie Bashir, is also flying to Queensland to help with water-bombing efforts in the island, also known as K'gari.

“Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing,” the QFES said.

Fire trucks parked on the sand on Fraser Island as smoke looms overhead.
Those who are unable to leave their home in Happy Valley have been told to follow their bush survival plan and seek shelter in the safest area. Source: QFES

“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.”

QFES said power and mobile service could be lost of the coming hours, and people in the area will not be able to see well because of the poor air quality and smoke.

The bushfire on Fraser Island burning on November 4. Source: Facebook
The bushfire on Fraser Island has been burning since mid-October. It is seen burning on November 4. Source: Facebook

Happy Valley bushfire ‘coming with a vengeance’

Some residents have said they are staying behind to defend their homes against the encroaching inferno.

Elspeth Murray, from the Happy Valley Community Association, said overnight humidity and a drop in the wind had hindered the fire front overnight, but 30 km/h winds were expected on Monday.

“It will be coming at us with a vengeance,” she told Nine's Today program on Sunday.

Ms Murray is staying to defend her home with others in Happy Valley, who she says have been preparing for severe bushfires for 18 months.

She said the community had spent months working on hazard reduction and building fire breaks under the direction of a resident who is former rural fire service inspector and has 30 years experience.

Firefighters work to save a home from the Fraser Island fire.
Happy Valley residents who may have left have been told not to return because 'conditions are too dangerous'. Source: QFES

Ms Murray said 10 people had voluntarily evacuated on Sunday, but about 50 people are staying, with the safety of the beach only 200 metres away if conditions deteriorate.

“So no-one is being stupid, we know what we are doing,” she said.

“We have been well-schooled in what often will burn down towns like ours – it's not the flames coming straight at us, but the ember attacks that happen and light up unattended property. So every home has been well and truly cleaned of leaf matter.

“Our garden is looking a lot greener than it should at this time of year only because we have been watering it solidly for the last three weeks to ensure that we don't have dry grass around. Neighbours have looked after neighbours here.”

With AAP

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