Residents evacuate as raging fire hits Woodgate, Buxton

DOZENS of vehicles and people were stopped for hours in the heat on Woodgate Rd at the Draper Road turn-off as a fire blazed a few kilometres closer to Woodgate.

The fire began mid yesterday morning, with the first Queensland Fire and Emergency Service crews responding at 9.14.

Woodgate residents Amanda Degroot and Belle Parker were out all morning, and described the scene at the Woodgate roadblock as “surreal”.

“We decided to come home and were told we can’t get into Woodgate because it’s closed because this lovely fire that’s formed today,” Ms Degroot said.

“It’s quite nerve-racking, especially when we live on Frizzells Road.”

Both Ms Degroot and Ms Parker said watching the fire unfold in front of them was scary, but Ms Degroot was relieved she had taken her son with her on her morning errands.

“And it’s surreal, like you’re somewhere else,” Ms Parker said.

“I’ve never seen anything or been in anything like this.”

Ms Degroot said it was confronting to watch.

“It’s confronting, when we’ve got friends who are still in there who can’t get out,” she said.

“All we can do is watch and wait and see what happens.”

As of 4pm, 40 vehicles were tasked with containing the fire, assisted by waterbombing planes.

Residents around Walkers Point Road and Kinkuna Waters were told to leave, though those in the Woodgate township were not required to evacuate.

Residents at Buxton were told to evacuate as conditions worsened and the fire spread south.

Queensland Rural Fire Service established an emergency warning for the area, the highest rating they can give a fire.

Only two other fires were given this rating yesterday, one at Noosa and another at Pechey west of Brisbane.

The Camp Gregory veterans camp was also evacuated before Heidkes Road was closed.

The fire came as the fire danger rating for the Wide Bay Burnett region reached severe.

The Queensland Police Service established an exclusion zone and made an emergency declaration, closing Woodgate Road between Heidkes Road and Frizzells Road in both directions.

The exclusion zone was bound by the Burrum River west of the Bruce Highway, north to Goodwood Road and east to the Elliott River.

Residents at the roadblock sat in the shade of the trees or their cars for hours, though none were allowed through.

Some handed out water, others complained about “Greenies”, others just leaned against a tree in the shade and smoked cigarettes while waiting.

One particularly unlucky family made it to the roadblock only to have an electrical fault in their car which didn’t allow it to start, though there were clearly worse places to break down yesterday than the safe side of a roadblock.

While most conceded they would be waiting for many, many hours, one car ran the roadblock while the State Emergency Service had their backs turned allowing a fire engine through.

On the other side of the roadblock, residents living at the Kinkuna Waters Estate were told to evacuate west toward Goodwood, while those at Walkers Point Road were told to head to the Woodgate Bowls Club, as the town did not have a dedicated evacuationtion centre.

By 6pm yesterday, 34 crews were tasked to the Woodgate fire, 20 were tasked to Buxton, four were handling a fire at Burrum Heads and two were at a small fire in Howard.

Degrading conditions at Buxton meant firefighters were in danger of being unable to prevent the fire from advancing, with the fire posing a threat to all lives in its path.

Last night the Isis Cultural Centre in Childers was established as a refuge for people in need of emergency accommodation.