Deepwater residents waiting on whether they can return as Queensland fires rage on
A decision will be made on Monday morning as to whether Deepwater residents can return home. (ABC News: Tim Swanston)
Around a week since they were told to evacuate to escape a dangerous and unpredictable fire, Deepwater residents may have to wait a while yet before returning home.
- Officially, two properties have been destroyed, but locals say that figure is much higher
- A local farmer says the long drought has made the fire the worst he has seen in 30 years
- On Sunday, close to 100 firefighters from Victoria began working on the front lines
Severe fire conditions in the area are persisting and fires breaking containment lines could mean it may be days until they can head back to their properties.
Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett says it could be tomorrow at best, but a decision will be made on Monday morning.
“Unfortunately, fire has broken containment lines in Baffle Creek. Firefighters are working to contain the fire again. This may delay re-entry,” he said in a statement.
The blaze, which took hold south of Gladstone, has burnt through tens of thousands of hectares of bushland in Deepwater, Rules Beach, Oyster Creek and Baffle Creek.
Officially it has destroyed two properties. But the locals say that figure is much higher.
At the height of the fire, residents escaped to the nearby Miriam Vale to take shelter.
Deepwater resident Peter Mackie says he’s never seen a fire that compares to the current blaze. (ABC News: Timothy Swanston)
They have been visited by federal, state and local politicians in recent days, urging them to remain strong.
The Queensland Government launched a bushfire appeal, tipping $125,000 into the cause. Meanwhile, the Federal Government says it will make funding available to help impacted communities in the fire-ravaged state.
Peter Mackie, who works for a macadamia farm in the Deepwater area, says the farm escaped much of the devastation, but it was unlike anything he had seen before in his 30 years in the area.
“I’ve seen three or four fires, but nothing like this,” he said.
“It’s been dry so long, that’s your problem, all your tea trees are so dry, they just all burned.
“There’s virtually nothing that’s not burned, right up into the national park, it’s all burned.
“There’s been so much smoke everyday, right through the house.”
The Federal Government says it will make funding available to help impacted communities in Queensland. (ABC News: Timothy Swanston)
Gladstone Regional Council officers, along with other agencies, have been clearing roads and lopping down dangerous trees to ensure the area is safe for residents to return.
‘Looking after the community’
Meanwhile, hundreds of interstate firefighters have been flown to Queensland to help with the bushfire crisis.
Today, close to 100 firefighters from Victoria began working on the front lines.
Peter Lucas from the Victorian Country Fire Authority said he is proud to help, having been a firefighter for more than 45 years.
Peter Lucas and firefighters from the Victorian Country Fire Authority began working on the Queensland front line on Sunday. (ABC News: Timothy Swanston)
“Every one of these is a challenge, I’ve been on a number of these and every one is 100 per cent different from the others,” he said.
“We all train in the same system, we talk the same incident controls, the same firefighting tactics.
“The language is identical so we can transition seamlessly.
“These volunteers serve the community, they see the need. This is an Australian effort to look after the Australian community.”