Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bushfire threatens south of Gladstone

Authorities were stretched to the limit on Sunday as they worked to contain about 50 bush and grass fires across the state.

More than a dozen crews, two water bombing helicopters and a plane were sent to the scene of a large bushfire, south of Gladstone, which was surrounding a chemical plant.

But Assistant Commissioner Neil Gallant says with nightfall, winds have dropped.

"We've scaled back a few of the fires, thankfully as night has fallen, the winds have dropped off and the humidity has risen so the fires are not moving as quickly," he said.

"At this stage we're confident we've got a handle on them.

"Some of the fires are contained but not all of them.

"Hopefully tomorrow we'll just have crews patrolling those containment lines."

Assistant Commissioner Gallant says extra officers from Brisbane and Mackay in north Queensland have been sent to Central Queensland to help their tired colleagues.

"At the moment, we're just trying to release as many crews as we can to try and combat fatigue, a lot of the crews have been going fairly solid since yesterday morning," he said.

He says despite conditions having eased, residents still need to remain alert.

"At this stage they still need to be aware that there are fires in their area, conditions are still volatile and people who live in rural areas or on the fringe of urban areas people need to be aware that a fire could start tomorrow and endanger their property," he said.

The challenge for us yesterday was the intensity of the wind as it was coming through and we're expecting more winds today," he said.
"The humidity's picking up a little bit because the wind's changing, so we're going to have an interesting week given the wind changes.
"We're hoping it will ease a little bit by tomorrow."
Assistant Fire Commissioner in central Queensland Neil Gallant said a team of fire crews from Mackay and specialist staff from Brisbane will go to Rockhampton this afternoon to assist with 12 fires in the region.
"The record wet season that we had at the start of the year has meant that there's been enormous vegetation growth and unfortunately now that's drying out, so any fire that starts has plenty of fuel," he said.
"We're certainly looking ahead because a lot of our crews are fatigued, the volunteers in the rural service have contributed many of their hours to helping out."

It comes as Brisbanites feel the chill with below average springtime temperatures.
While the thermometer doesn't normally drop below 15.8 degrees in October, it's been down to 11 degrees in the past few days with those cold mornings set to stick around for at least the next week.
The cold, dry weather is responsible for some bushfires which are also being fuelled by extra vegetation from the January floods.
There are currently over 30 fires burning around the South Burnett and Burrum Heads area.

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