Gold Coast hinterland bushfire out of control, fires expected to increase this afternoon across Queensland

| 08.09,19. 04:03 PM |

Gold Coast hinterland bushfire out of control, fires expected to increase this afternoon across Queensland

Queensland firefighters were still battling more than 40 fires across the state this morning. (Supplied: QFES)

A bushfire at Binna Burra is burning out of control and heading to Springbrook National Park in the Gold Coast hinterland.

A watch and act has been issued for a fire burning in Peachester, near Beerwah, on the Sunshine Coast.

Acting Fire Commissioner Mike Wassing said there were 57 fires burning across Queensland as of this morning, but that figure was expected to grow this afternoon.

Commissioner Wassing said the Binna Burra fire remained challenging, with no break in conditions expected until Wednesday.

"Very remote, really difficult conditions for our firefighters, many of those areas and a lot of those assets, we just cannot get to," he said.

"Once we get to Wednesday we've still got a lot of work to do, and it's going to be a very long season for us ahead."

The fires have also forced the closure of nine schools so far across the state — many of them in the Granite Belt region.

The manager of the QFES predictive services unit, Andrew Sturgess, said the fire conditions were unprecedented in Queensland.

"It is an historic event. [We've] never seen this before in recorded history — fire weather has never been as severe, this early in Spring," Inspector Sturgess said.

"So this is an omen, if you will — a warning of the fire season that we're likely to see ahead in the south-eastern parts of the state, the driest parts of the state, where most of our population is."

The Acting Queensland Premier, Jackie Trad, said the severe conditions could be attributed to climate change.

"There is no doubt that with an increasing temperature with climate change, then what the scientists tell us is that events such as these will be more frequent and they will be much more ferocious," she said.

The bushfire in the Gold Coast hinterland caused extensive damage to the historic Binna Burra Lodge.

The heritage-listed accommodation at Beechmont was founded by conservationists in 1933.

Surrounded by Lamington National Park, the lodge has panoramic views of the surrounding rainforest.

The area is part of the World Heritage-listed Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia.

"The reality is that we should expect significant structural loss, that has already occurred and potentially much more loss," Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said.

"This fire has continued to show a mind of its own."

At least 11 homes had already been destroyed at Binna Burra and the fire was revised to a watch and act level early this morning.

Eight aircraft were being sent to the Binna Burra blaze, including water bombers.

QFES Superintendent Corey Bock said the area remains a concern, with access difficult.

"The Binna Burra area is very steep, it's very high country, it's very inaccessible for most of it.

"So it's making firefighting in that area very, very difficult."

The fire is burning on both sides of Binna Burra Road, south of Summerville Road, travelling in an easterly direction towards Numinbah Valley and Springbrook.

Those who have left the area should not return as conditions are too dangerous. Anyone in the area should be ready to leave in case the situation gets worse quickly.

Binna Burra Road remains closed.

Authorities are also monitoring the fire in the nearby Numinbah Valley, where 101 prisoners and some staff at the women's correctional centre were evacuated.

"We've done a lot of doorknocking in the area," said Superintendent Bock.

"I think we're well prepared in that area now."

In Canungra, near the Sarabah and Beechmont fires, wind gusts of up to 75kph were recorded in the early hours of Saturday night.

Dangerous fire heading towards Applethorpe

The Stanthorpe fire was continuing to travel in a north-easterly direction towards Applethorpe.

It is expected to affect properties on Ellwood Road, Kelly Road and Allen Lane and the latest warning from emergency services said it could have a significant impact on the community.

QFES said fire crews are working on containing the fire in that area, and with efforts also focused into the Broadwater State forest.

Residents leaving the area are urged to use the New England Highway and are free to do so in a northerly or southerly direction.

Weather conditions unlikely to ease until Wednesday

Senior BoM forecaster Sam Campbell said conditions would start to ease from Tuesday but people should not be complacent with the cooler temperatures today.

"Very high fire dangers are expected through southern and south-eastern Queensland affecting the major fires of concern for today," he said.

"We'll just continue to see dry, westerly winds and temperatures getting up into the low 20s, but probably the main issue is going to be the wind combined with the relative humidity which will be dropping down to the low 20s again."

Over three days, at least 20 structures have been lost.

Fear firebugs behind FNQ blazes

In Far North Queensland, firefighters are urging residents to report suspicious behaviour to Crimestoppers, with fears some fires are being lit deliberately.

The Atherton Tablelands have been hit hard by fires this week, with one blaze engulfing a home at Biboohra, north of Mareeba.

Area commander Inspector Shane Jarvis said crews were concerned about the way some fires were starting.

"We are asking the community to help us out, you are our eyes and ears and we need your help," Inspector Jarvis said.

"If you notice or see anyone that is acting suspiciously or could be lighting fires in your area you are to report them to Crimestoppers immediately."

Meanwhile an investigation is underway into a deliberately lit grassfire at Pimpama on the northern Gold Coast.

State Disaster Coordinator Steve Gollschewski said police would be "relentless" in their search for the offender.

"That's extremely disappointing — people's lives, including emergency services workers, [are] put at risk," he said.

"The people who do these sorts of acts tie up police resources for the investigations, for offences which I might add are very serious can include life imprisonment."


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