Bushfire update: North Stradbroke Island

TOP EFFORT: QYAC rangers. Photo: Redland City Council
TOP EFFORT: QYAC rangers. Photo: Redland City Council

UPDATE Friday 3pm

ACCESS to Main Beach below the causeway has been opened as firefighting crew leave North Stradbroke Island.

A Redland City Council spokesperson said the island was patrolled overnight and hot spots extinguished, with QYAC and Queenslands Parks and Wildlife Service rangers continuing to monitor the area.

The spokesperson said Straddie residents might experience intermittent power outages as Energex removed its temporary generators set up during the bushfire at Eighteen Mile Swamp.

Always dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.

The disaster coordination centre set up at Straddie. Photo: Supplied

The disaster coordination centre set up at Straddie. Photo: Supplied

UPDATE Wednesday 4.20pm

A DISASTER coordination centre will be closed seven days after a bushfire ignited by lightning broke out at Eighteen Mile Swamp.

The fire had ravaged more than 3200 hectares of the island, with more than 250 firefighters, police and support crew from other agencies helping fire containment efforts.

Water was doused onto flames by helicopters and 22,000 litres of firefighting foam dropped from above as winds threatened to fan embers across to nearby Southern Moreton Bay Islands.​

As state authorities dealt with bushfires across Queensland, firefighters from South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria were deployed to Straddie to help containment efforts.

Victorian firefighters pose for a happy snap. Photo: Supplied

Victorian firefighters pose for a happy snap. Photo: Supplied

A Redland City Council spokesperson said council’s disaster planning and operations team would continue to assess the situation from council offices after the centre was closed at 7pm on Wednesday.

Community hubs would be opened until 6pm on Wednesday at Dunwich Community Hall and Russell Island Recreation Hall.

The spokesperson said there was no active fire fronts but the swamp’s south-eastern area would continue to smoulder over the next week.

Earlier today, fire was burning against itself, posing no immediate threats to properties or townships.

About two-millimetres of rainfall has since been recorded at North Stradbroke Island’s Point Lookout by the Bureau of Meteorology.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson said firefighting crews would continue to watch  bushfire burning within containment lines, urging residents affected by smoke to close windows and doors.

“North Stradbroke Island residents may be affected by a smoke haze,” the QFES spokesperson said.

Water refilling drum for ground crew. Photo: Supplied

Water refilling drum for ground crew. Photo: Supplied

“Residents are asked to close windows and doors and if suffering from a respiratory condition, keep medications close by.

“Motorists should drive with caution and to conditions.”

Home Affairs Assistant Minister Linda Reynolds said council would be supported by the Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements for firefighting and operational response activities.

“The fires on North Stradbroke Island are a separate event to the fires still burning in Central Queensland by they have been no less destructive to the natural environment,” she said.

“Through the DRFA, we are able to provide council with assistance to fight the fires as well as funding for operational response activities.”

Always dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.

BUSHFIRE: Redland City Council firefighters walk through land ravaged by bushfire. Photo: Redland City Council

BUSHFIRE: Redland City Council firefighters walk through land ravaged by bushfire. Photo: Redland City Council

UPDATE Wednesday 9.30am

A BUSHFIRE sparked by lightning a week ago continues to burn within containment areas.

A Redland City Council spokesperson said there were no active fire fronts.

Fire at the island’s south-east was burning against itself, with no immediate threat to Straddie townships or at the nearby Southern Moreton Bay Islands.

Water-bombing helicopters continued to douse the area on Tuesday. 

A plane would be sent up for aerial inspection on Wednesday before authorities decided if water-bombing was again needed, the spokesperson said.

“Al fire is back from the burnt out area,” the spokesperson said.

“Fire in the swamp sits between the water and top of the reeds and could be there for some time.

TOP EFFORT: More than 250 firefighters, police and support crew from QFES, Redland City Council,Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Energex, Sibelco and Seqwater helped containment efforts. Photo: Redland City Council

TOP EFFORT: More than 250 firefighters, police and support crew from QFES, Redland City Council,Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Energex, Sibelco and Seqwater helped containment efforts. Photo: Redland City Council

“There are still hot spots within the containment lines but these are being closely monitored and extinguished.”

Smouldering areas would continued to create smoke for the next week, with authorities on alert for fires reigniting in the swamp.

Residents were urged to remain alert to the situation, with winds expected to strengthen later on Wednesday.

All internal walking tracks in Straddie’s national parks remain closed, with Tripod Track from the Amity turnoff to Alfred Martin Way shut and Alfred Martin Way near the golf course to causeway also closed.

Community hubs will be opened until 6pm on Wednesday at Dunwich Community Hall and Russell Island Recreation Hall for the final day.

A fire ban is in place for Redland City until 11.59pm on Wednesday.

The bushfire, sparked by lightning last Wednesday, burnt across more than 3200 hectares of land from the causeway to the island’s south, ravaging about ten per cent of the island.

More than 250 firefighters, police and support crew from QFES, Redland City Council,Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Energex, Sibelco and Seqwater helped containment efforts.

Firefighters from South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria also bolstered ranks.

Always dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.

UPDATE Tuesday 6.30pm

QUEENSLAND Fire and Emergency Services have warned North Stradbroke Island residents to be vigilant about bushfires, as a storm that may bring lightning was forecast.

As at 3.45pm, the bushfire was burning in containment lines, which were being monitored by firefighters on the ground.

A Redland City Council spokesperson said on Tuesday afternoon there were no active fire fronts on Straddie.

“There are still hot spots within the containment lines but these are being closely monitored and extinguished,” the spokesperson said.

Winds were expected to increase on Wednesday.

“There is also a possibility the fires may reignite in the swamp over the next week.

“There will also continue to be smoke due to smouldering in the burnt out areas and this is likely to last for a week or more.”

About 3200 hectares had burned across about 22 kilometres along the eastern coast of the island to the south over the last week.

More than 250 firefighters, police and support crew from QFES, Redland City Council, Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Energex, Sibelco, and Seqwater and firefighters from South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria had been involved in the firefighting efforts.

UPDATE Tuesday 9.30am

MORE than 3185 hectares have burnt on North Stradbroke Island since the fire started on Wednesday.

Water bombing will continue on Tuesday.

There are still no immediate threats to townships on North Stradbroke Island.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson said in an advice notice issued at 9am on Tuesday that firefighters continued to strengthen containment lines and aerial operations would continue.

“A slight increase in winds is forecast for this afternoon and smoke may continue to affect the Southern Moreton Bay Islands,” the spokesperson said.

”Smoke may also affect Moreton Bay mainland.

“Residents, especially the elderly and those with respiratory illness, should stay alert and take precautions to avoid the effect of the increased smoke hazards.

“Those with respiratory conditions might consider leaving the islands.”

A council spokesperson said Main Beach remained closed for swimming and walking tracks in national parks on the island were still closed.

Alfred Martin Way near the golf course to the causeway and Tripod Track from the Amity turnoff to Alfred Martin Way are closed.

Community information hubs are open until 6pm on Tuesday at the Dunwich Community Hall (Ballow Road) on Straddie and at nearby Russell Island at the Russell Island Recreation Hall (Alison Crescent), near the ferry terminal.

Wind was expected to remain light on Tuesday and pick up again on Wednesday. It is possible that fires inaccessible to ground crews could reignite on Wednesday.

The fire ban remains in place across the Redlands until 11.59pm on Wednesday, December 5.

Crews from QFES, Redland City Council, Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service joined by firefighters from Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia are involved in the fire fighting efforts.

Properties are not under direct threat at this time.

Call Triple Zero (000) immediately if you believe you or your property is under threat.

UPDATE Monday 8pm

STRADDIE: Map shows fire as at 5.15pm on Monday, December 3. Black hatched area is the burnt area and red dots are active fires.

STRADDIE: Map shows fire as at 5.15pm on Monday, December 3. Black hatched area is the burnt area and red dots are active fires.

ABOUT 80 North Stradbroke Island residents and visitors met at Dunwich on Monday afternoon for an update on the fire burning on the eastern and southern parts of the island.

QFES, Redland City Council, Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Seqwater, Energex and Sibelco attended, together with police and SES.

Redland City mayor Karen Williams thanked firefighters from Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, as well as all other agencies and volunteers for their contribution in bringing the bushfire under control and within containment lines.

A council spokesperson said representatives reported there were no active fire fronts north of Enterprise Mine and the wind was dropping off considerably.

“It is expected to remain light throughout tomorrow (Tuesday) before picking up again on Wednesday,” the spokesperson said.

With the wind direction changing to easterly, smoke will move west across the Southern Moreton Bay Islands and mainland Redlands Coast.

“Residents should continue to protect themselves from the smoke by closing their doors and windows, keeping medication close by and driving with caution in low visibility conditions.

“Lighter wind and much reduced fire fronts mean embers are unlikely to affect the SMBIs over the next 24 hours.”

Residents and visitors were reminded to stay alert. With wind predicted to pick up on Wednesday there was the possibility that fires inaccessible to ground crews could reignite.

Water bombing was expected to continue on Tuesday and a fire ban remained in place across the Redland until 11.59pm on Wednesday, December 5.

The community information hubs at Dunwich Community Hall, Ballow Road, North Stradbroke Island and Russell Island Recreation Hall (near the ferry terminal) will be open on Tuesday from 8am to 6pm.

UPDATE Monday 4.40pm

Smoke at North Stradbroke Island on Saturday. Photo: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

Smoke at North Stradbroke Island on Saturday. Photo: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

RESIDENTS on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands with respiratory conditions might want to consider leaving to avoid breathing in smoke, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has warned.

Wind changes this afternoon and overnight are tipped to carry more smoke from North Stradbroke Island’s bushfires over to the SMBIs and across the mainland.

Smoke has already caused hazy conditions across the Redlands since Thursday, with prevailing winds set to intensify conditions.

Haze has also been spotted outside the Redlands at Brisbane.

The spokesperson said firefighters were still strengthening containment lines, with authorities on high alert for spot fires at SMBIs caused by embers carried by winds.

“Wind changes this afternoon and overnight are likely to continue the smoke and fire spotting hazards for the SMBIs, including Russell Island,” the spokesperson said.

“Smoke may also affect Moreton Bay mainland.

“Residents, especially the elderly and those with respiratory illness, should stay alert and take precautions to avoid the effect of the increased smoke hazards.”

Properties and townships were not under direct threat.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said visitors to national parks needed to listen to rangers.

All national park walking tracks at North Stradbroke Island south of Alfred Martin Way shut because of the bushfire.

Ms Enoch said there had been recent reports of campers at Queensland national parks refusing to leave an area after rangers had asked them to move.

“It is extremely important that campers follow the direction of firefighters, rangers and other agencies for their own safety and the safety of our hard-working firefighters,” Ms Enoch said.

“As the state is being impacted by these unprecedented bushfires our government’s priority is the safety of Queenslanders.

“And in order to keep people safe, it is vital that people use common sense and heed the warnings.”

Safety tips from QFES

- If you suffer from a respiratory condition, keep your medication close by.

 – Drive with caution in low visibility conditions.

 – Contact your neighbours to see if they need help preparing for the bushfire.

 – Consider finding your essential items in case you need to leave.

 – Consider what you will do to protect your pets and livestock.

 – Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

 – Advise family and friends of your intended actions if the situation changes.

Call Triple Zero (000) immediately if you believe you or your property is under threat.

BUSHFIRE: Satellite imagery showing bushfire at North Stradbroke Island. Queensland Government Queensland Glob

BUSHFIRE: Satellite imagery showing bushfire at North Stradbroke Island. Queensland Government Queensland Glob

UPDATE Monday 2.15pm

FIREFIGHTING foam has been used to smother bushfire travelling west on North Stradbroke Island.

A Redland City Council spokesperson said 22,000 litres of the foam was dumped onto bushfire in two air drops on Monday.

Four water-bombing helicopters continued to douse areas of Straddie, with one chopper flying above to observe the fire.

The fire was ignited by lightning in an inaccessible part of Eighteen Mile Swamp on Wednesday about noon, with firefighting efforts continued.

The bushfire has travelled about 40-kilometres south on the island’s east and was burning near Blue Lake, with about 2300 hectares ravaged.

There are immediate threats to townships at North Stradbroke Island.

The spokesperson said a small fire front south of Enterprise Mine would likely be contained as it moved towards a back-burned area.

KEEP ALERT: Photo of fire at North Stradbroke Island taken on Saturday, December 1. Photo: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

KEEP ALERT: Photo of fire at North Stradbroke Island taken on Saturday, December 1. Photo: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

Wind gusts of 59km/h were recorded at Cape Moreton earlier today, making for extremely dangerous firefighting conditions.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Inspector Damien Thomas said earlier today that back-burning had been stopped at Straddie because of winds.

South-easterly winds were expected to shift into easterlies about 4pm, blowing towards the west, posing fire spotting hazards for Southern Moreton Bay Islands, including at Russell Island.

Authorities are concerned about winds blowing thick smoke across SMBs and the mainland, with Brisbane City residents also warned about the haze.

Russell Island’s recreation hall at 1 Alison Crescent is operating as a community hub until 6pm for people wanting to know more.

Main Beach at Straddie is closed to swimming, with all national park walking tracks at North Stradbroke Island south of Alfred Martin Way shut.

Four-wheel-driving track Fisherman’s Track is also closed.

About 40 Queensland Fire and Emergency Services firefighters were at the island on Monday, supported by police and State Emergency Service volunteers.

Redland City Council, Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Seqwater, Energex and Sibelco are also helping efforts.

Straddie residents and visitors can find out more at a community meeting from 4pm on Monday at Dunwich Community Hall along Ballow Street.

The hall is also being used as a community hub, open from noon to 6pm on Monday and 8am and 6pm on Tuesday.

Always dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.

EARLIER Monday 10am

RUSSELL Island residents face a worrying wait to see if a major North Stradbroke Island fire will jump to their island.

A radical wind change on Sunday from north to south has raised the prospect of embers being blown on to other more densely populated islands, sparking dangerous blazes.

Winds are expected to shift later on Monday, blowing further from the east and increasing smoke and fire spotting hazards.

Two extra rural fire service crews and one urban unit have been stationed at Russell Island in-case hot embers blown over from Straddie spark fire. 

The island’s recreation hall at 1 Alison Crescent is operating as a community hub until 6pm. 

At this time of year south-east Queenslanders are normally more worried about storms and flash flooding, rather than hot and dry winds which are fanning fires across the state.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Inspector Damien Thomas said back-burning had stopped at Straddie because of the winds.

Wind gusts of 59km/h were recorded at Cape Moreton earlier today, making for extremely dangerous conditions for the up to 60 firefighters at North Stradbroke.

Dozers were being used to make two large firebreaks west from the Enterprise Mine, with existing firebreaks also widened.

Inspector Thomas said water-bombing by helicopters was still underway. Choppers were being refuelled on the mainland at GJ Walter Park.

Water-bombing helicopters refuelling at GJ Walter Park.

Water-bombing helicopters refuelling at GJ Walter Park.

The bushfire, sparked five days ago by lightning in an inaccessible part of Eighteen Mile Swamp, had so far travelled about 40-kilometres south on the island’s east and was burning near Blue Lake. 

About 60 firefighters from QFES, Redland City Council, Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Seqwater and Sibelco were at the island on Monday.

Firefighters from South Australian and Tasmania also helped out over the weekend.

A Redland City Council spokesperson said more than 2300 hectares had been affected, which was about 10 per cent of the island.

In early 2014, a bushfire in the same area went on to ravage 70 per cent of the island, forcing the evacuation of residents and more than 900 campers and their vehicles.

No Straddie townships were currently under threat but residents are urged to keep up to date with the situation.

A fire ban has been extended across all of Redland City until 11.59pm on Wednesday, December 5.

Main Beach has been closed south of Alfred Martin Way and Fisherman’s Track is shut, with camping bookings for that area suspended by Minjerribah Camping.

Conditions are expected to ease by Tuesday but authorities are worried about wind, which is expected to pick-up again on Wednesday.

Straddie residents and visitors can find out more at a community meeting from 4pm on Monday at Dunwich Community Hall along Ballow Street.

The hall is also being used as a community hub, open from noon to 6pm on Monday and 8am and 6pm on Tuesday.

Always dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.

UPDATE Sunday 5pm

GJ Walter Park Cleveland 

REFUELING: Helicopters involved in fighting the fire on North Stradbroke Island were refuelling at a Cleveland park on the weekend, including from 5am until about 6.30pm on Sunday.

GJ Walter Park Cleveland REFUELING: Helicopters involved in fighting the fire on North Stradbroke Island were refuelling at a Cleveland park on the weekend, including from 5am until about 6.30pm on Sunday.

EMERGENCY services will hold a meeting at Dunwich on Monday and a fire information hub will open on North Stradbroke Island on Monday and Tuesday.

The hub will be at the Dunwich Community Hall from midday to 6pm on Monday and 8am to 6pm on Tuesday.

Residents and visitors to North Stradbroke Island can drop in at any time during these hours to find out that latest about the fire that has burned on the island at Eighteen Miles Swamp since Wednesday.

The venue will be staffed by Redland City Council officers.

A community meeting will be held at the hall from 4pm to 5pm to provide an update on the fire that has been burning on the island since Wednesday.

Representatives from emergency services, Redland City Council, Queensland Health and Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation  will provide the latest information at the meeting.

The Dunwich Community Hall is at 6 Ballow Road.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services issued an updated advice warning on Sunday at 1.30pm.

The warning stated there was a bushfire burning in the vicinity of Sibelco Sand Mine near Main Beach Conservation Park and Naree Budjong Djara National Park.

“Firefighters continue to strengthen containment lines and aerial operations are assisting,” the warning said.

“Probable changes in wind direction throughout Sunday and Monday are likely to increase smoke and fire spotting hazards for the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, especially Russell Island.”

SMBI residents, especially the elderly and those with respiratory illness, were advised to stay alert and take precautions to avoid the effect of the increased smoke hazards.

People with respiratory conditions could consider leaving the islands before the wind change.

North Stradbroke Island properties are not under direct threat at this time.

A Redland City Council spokesperson said the Bureau of Meteorology had forecast an expected wind change early on Monday morning.

”Wind is expected to blow north towards Dunwich initially in the early hours of tomorrow morning, bringing increased smoke to the township,” the spokesperson said.

“Another wind change is then expected by the early afternoon tomorrow, with the wind then coming from the east blowing smoke towards the west coast of the island.

“Winds blowing to the west coast of the island will mean an increase in smoke blowing over the Southern Moreton Bay Islands and southern mainland Redlands Coast by early afternoon tomorrow.

A fire ban for Redlands has been extended until midnight on Wednesday, December 5.

It is possible it will be extended.

To report any wildfires call 000 (triple zero).

EARLIER

SOUTHERN Moreton Bay Island residents are being asked to stay alert to a possible increase in smoke and ember hazard from the fire burning in Eighteen Mile Swamp on North Stradbroke Island.

FIRES CONTINUE: The marked area shows the 1100 hectares already burnt on North Stradbroke Island.

FIRES CONTINUE: The marked area shows the 1100 hectares already burnt on North Stradbroke Island.

The warning comes as the total fire ban for Redland City was extended until midnight on Sunday, December 2.

A Redland City Council spokesperson said a possible change in wind direction was expected from Sunday through Monday with winds expected from the easterly direction likely to increase smoke and ember hazards for the bay islands, especially Russell.

”SMBI residents, especially the elderly and those with respiratory illness, are being asked to stay alert and take precautions to avoid the effect of the increased smoke hazards,” the spokesperson said.

“While there is no fire threat on SMBI, all residents should familiarise themselves with their local disaster plans and stay aware of the latest information.

The fire on Straddie is burning in a southerly direction within containment lines in a difficult to access area of Eighteen Mile Swamp.

The council spokesperson said on Saturday morning the fire was located east of Enterprise Mine.

A total of 42 emergency responders, 21 vehicles and five helicopters – one surveillance and four water bombers – are in attendance at the fire.

It has the potential to burn underground for several weeks, and has already burnt about 1100 hectares.

No property or lives are under threat from the fire.

Water bombing and back-burning was expected to continue for several days.

All internal walking tracks in Naree Budjong Djara National Park on North Stradbroke Island are temporarily closed due to the current weather conditions and risk of wildfires.

This includes Fishman’s Track, Alfred Martin Way and access south along Main Beach has been closed.

There is no camping at Main Beach and the beach is closed south of Alfred Martin Way.

On Friday, Energex took five generators to the island as a precaution.

About 60 residents attended a community meeting at Dunwich on Friday afternoon to be briefed about the situation.

For information, visit the Redland City disaster website disaster.redland.qld.gov.au.

·         There is no active fire front however the fire will continue to smoulder in the south-eastern end of the swamp over the next week.

 There is no immediate threat to townships on the island or at the nearby Southern Moreton Bay Islands.