Woodgate fire to burn for a few more weeks
While the conditions at Woodgate have calmed a little since last week, emergency services will remain on standby for the next few days monitoring changing weather conditions.
Queensland Police Service Acting Superintendent for Wide Bay Burnett District Pat Swindells said while conditions were better yesterday, an easterly wind was expected to blow through the region today.
“We’ll be on alert for that and watching very, very carefully,” Act Supt Swindells said.
“There’s still a large amount of fuel northwest and southwest of Kinkuna Waters Estate.”
The fire was burning within containment lines yesterday and required only a handful or two of crews to maintain the line.
However, Act Supt Swindells said there was still a lot of fuel in the area and the fire would burn for some weeks yet.
He said emergency services were relishing every opportunity to sit down and have a breather where possible with the dry conditions expected to remain into January.
The Woodgate fire, which started on Wednesday morning, resulted in approximately 15,000 acres of ground burned within a 46 kilometre circumference of the seaside town by Saturday.
“We were right at the point of evacuating Woodgate,” Act Supt Swindells revealed.
While Woodgate avoided a full-scale evacuation, the communities at Buxton and Walkers Point were evacuated as the fire posed a very real threat of razing the communities.
But despite the scale of the fire, with some fire fronts being led by walls of flame more than 10 metres high, some residents decided to stay at their properties rather than evacuate.
Act Supt Swindells said while police didn’t want things to escalate to a serious level, those who refused to leave could be forcibly evacuated from dangerous areas.
“My advice is to listen to the advice of emergency services,” he said.
Act Supt Swindells praised the gargantuan effort from emergency service crews, which meant there were no major losses from the fire.
“I’m very, very pleased to say we lost no properties and we had no persons injured by these fires,” he said.
Crews from down the coast and New Zealand were called in to help contain the fire heading into the weekend.
“We basically had rural fire brigades from the Sunshine Coast north to Gin Gin,” Mr Swindells said.
“We were very fortunate that we had 12 water bombers.” He said emergency services wanted to make it clear that the danger had not passed.
“We’re still in a State of Fire Emergency as declared by the Government,” he said.
“Please be aware that you are not permitted to light any fires.”
QFES Captain Paul Womersley said the vegetation had proven a challenge for crews attempting to control the blaze due to its density and tendency to throw embers, causing further fires.
Another challenge our fireys faced was the constantly shifting wind direction on Friday, making it difficult to establish containment lines as the fire was rapidly changing direction, as well as access tracks becoming boggy from the constant use.
He said at this stage Woodgate was not under major threat, though did warn things could change.
While conditions are calm, Mr Womersley said crews were working to fatten containment lines up to 50 metres ahead of the easterly wind change expected to come through on Tuesday.
“There’s really good crew activities out on the ground,” he said.