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Grim warning for Queenslanders refusing to evacuate as massive bushfire bears down village 

Stubborn residents refusing to evacuate a small town in the path of a deadly inferno have been warned they will ‘burn to death’ if they do not leave.

Thick, billowing smoke is already surrounding Rockhampton in Queensland as the blaze edges closer to homes and shopping precincts in the region.

More than 8000 residents have fled but about 50 are standing their ground despite desperate pleas from frustrated emergency services. 

Flames are beginning to lick the perimeters of the small regional town known for its beef.

‘People will burn to death,’ Queensland’s deputy police commissioner Bob Gee said.

‘Their normal approaches probably won’t work if this situation develops the way it is predicted to develop. 

‘It is no different to a Category 5 cyclone coming through your door.’

‘If you have children with you, you need to think really hard about not losing a house, but losing the people you care most about.’

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ Rural Fire Service has declared the Capricornia and Central Highlands and Coalfield regions a catastrophic fire danger, the highest level on the scale

 The Queensland inferno is seen from above as it ravages dangerously close to properties

 The Queensland inferno is seen from above as it ravages dangerously close to properties

Officers are said to be doing one final sweep of the area of Deepwater but after that, residents will be on their own

Officers are said to be doing one final sweep of the area of Deepwater but after that, residents will be on their own

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ Rural Fire Service has declared the Capricornia and Central Highlands as well as the Coalfield regions ‘catastrophically dangerous’ – the highest level available to them on the nationally recognised fire scale. 

Further south of Rockhampton, more than 1000 people have also been forced to leave the region of Deepwater.

Farmers in the small fishing village of Rules Beach are battering down the hatches of their sprawling orchards and are preparing to battle the blaze.

Macadamia grower Robert Griffith said that flames are just three kilometres away from his property, but he is refusing to budge. 

‘The wind is hot and dry, you can smell the fire, you can see the embers flying across and the whole farm is littered with burnt leaves from the past couple of days,’ he told The Courier Mail. 

Residents of Deepwater (pictured) are seen observing the fire as it comes dangerously close to their properties

Residents of Deepwater (pictured) are seen observing the fire as it comes dangerously close to their properties

Residents of Deepwater are forced to flee by boat as conditions worsen 

Residents of Deepwater are forced to flee by boat as conditions worsen 

‘As the crow flies it’s only three kilometres away, we’ve probably got half an hour to an hour.’ he said.

Mr Gee said people in the path of the fire who are refusing to leave were playing Russian roulette.

What they’re saying about the QLD fires

* ‘If you have children with you, you need to think really hard about not losing a house, but losing the people you care most about. People will burn to death. The normal approaches probably won’t work if this situation develops the way it is predicted to develop. It is no different to a Category 5 cyclone coming through your door.’

Brian Smith, Regional Manager for the Rural Fire Services Central Region, says experts have predicted catastrophic conditions in the area south of Bundaberg.

* ‘This is something we don’t want to overstate, but they’re comparing this to the conditions in the Waroona fires in Western Australia, which completely wiped out a town a few years ago, and also to the recent California fires,’ he told AAP.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the conditions reminded him of the Ash Wednesday fires in Victoria.

* ‘I’m sure that some people have probably got very good and elaborate systems of pumps and dams and systems and they believe that ‘I’ll be OK and I know what I’m doing and I’ve done this before’. Today is not one of those days. Today is different. We are expecting a firestorm.’

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford warns conditions are so dangerous people could die.

* ‘What we’re expecting in Queensland today is the kind of conditions (that other states) have seen in the past – these are the kind of days where people could lose their lives.’

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warns people who refuse to leave might not be rescued.

* ‘We may not be able to rescue you once the fire reaches containment lines. Even if you are on the beach, the wind conditions are so dangerous we will not be able to send people in to remove you.’ Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

 

Officers are said to be doing one final sweep of the area but after that, residents will be on their own.  

On top of residents refusing to leave, authorities are now concerned about Hills Road Bridge, which serves as the only connection entrance to the area, will be destroyed by the fire, ultimately cutting off the only escape route for locals.         

As conditions worsen, the fires are already being compared to the devastating Malibu inferno in California, that destroyed hundreds of homes.

Brian Smith, regional manager for the Rural Fire Services central region, said experts in fire behaviour had predicted catastrophic conditions would unfold in the area north of Bundaberg on Wednesday afternoon.

‘This is something we don’t want to overstate, but they’re comparing this to the conditions in the Waroona fires in Western Australia, which completely wiped out a town a few years ago, and also to the recent California fires,’ he said.

He said the unpredictable fires were being fanned by gusty westerly winds, which started blowing at about midday.

Existing fires in the Deepwater region, south of Agnes Water, have already started breaking containment lines.

A new blaze is threatening properties at Ambrose, south of Rockhampton, and fire crews are trying to contain another blaze at Winfield, south of Baffle Creek.

Residents of Deepwater, Baffle Creek, Rules Beach and Oyster Creek, Eungella and Dalrymple Heights have been ordered to evacuate before fires cut roads.  

‘I’m sure that some people have probably got very good and elaborate systems of pumps and dams and systems and they believe that ‘I’ll be OK and I know what I’m doing and I’ve done this before,” Mr Crawford said.

‘Today is not one of those days. Today is different. We are expecting a firestorm.’

Firefighters are seen at a fire command post in Deepwater, Queensland

Firefighters are seen at a fire command post in Deepwater, Queensland

As conditions worsen, the fires are already being compared to the devastating Malibu inferno in California, that destroyed hundreds of homes

As conditions worsen, the fires are already being compared to the devastating Malibu inferno in California, that destroyed hundreds of homes

Firefighters from South Australia are expected to arrive on Wednesday, with more from around Australia to arrive later this week.

‘People will burn to death’: Residents of Deepwater, Baffle Creek, Rules Beach and Oyster Creek, Eungella and Dalrymple Heights have been ordered to evacuate before fires cut roads

The firestorm would likely create ‘dead man zones’ which would be impossible to survive, even in a car.

More than 85 fires are burning across the state, but the Deepwater fire and another at Dalrymple, west of Mackay, are of the most concern.

Interstate crews arrived on Tuesday to help fight the inferno in central Queensland that’s destroyed homes and burnt through at least 20,000 hectares of bush and farmland since Saturday.

Eight aircraft, including a massive water-bombing plane, which can dump 15,000 litres at a time, are also fighting the fire.

Crews from South Australia are expected to arrive on Wednesday, with more from around Australia to arrive later this week.

Queensland’s bushfire crisis

WHAT’S BURNING IN QUEENSLAND?

There were 87 fires burning across Queensland, – eight of serious concern, and two of “extreme concern” at 1100 AEST.

The “exceptional” heat and fire event will continue for days from Cooktown to Gladstone.

THE WORST FIRE IS STILL AT DEEPWATER

Residents of Deepwater, Baffle Creek, Rules Beach and Oyster Creek, Eungella and Dalrymple Heights have been ordered to evacuate before fires cut roads. Houses could be lost as the intense fire travels south.

Authorities have warned those who stay are risking death.

WHERE ARE THE OTHER DANGEROUS FIRES?

* Eungella (Formerly the Finch-Hatton fire) Residents have been told to evacuate before the fire impacts the town.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST DANGERS?

* Unprecedented conditions not seen before in Queensland, particularly in the Capricornia region, mean the fire is very unpredictable

* Extreme temperatures, low humidity and strong winds are creating “firestorms” that could change direction at any time

* Storms with dry lightning strikes and very little rain are forecast and could spark more blazes

* Residents in the direct path of the blaze are ignoring evacuation orders

WHO IS BATTLING THE BLAZES?

* Queensland Fire and Emergency Services are deployed at fires across the state

* More than 100 NSW firefighters are deployed in Agnes Water, with another 100 to arrive in coming days

* 100 SA firefighters are expected to arrive on Wednesday

* 220 firefighters requested from other Australian states

* Multiple water-bombing craft, including the NSW-based 737 Large Air Tanker Gaia

IS EVERYONE OKAY?

* No one seriously injured but two people treated on Sunday for smoke inhalation, and two on Tuesday night for heat-stress

* Two homes confirmed destroyed in Deepwater with reports of another two razed in the same area

* Around 1500 people evacuated

Source: AAP 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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