About 10,000 residents of Gracemere have been given the all clear to return home after being evacuated on Wednesday night but the danger in this area is not over yet.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services worked tirelessly throughout the night to save the Gracemere township as it faced the direct line of fire.
With some 8000 homes, the majority of evacuees found accommodation with family and friends in Rockhampton.
Federal Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, Member for Flynn, Ken O’Dowd, and Senator Matthew Canavan, cut their parliamentary week short to get back to central Queensland in order to be with their local communities.
Ms Landry and Senator Canavan spent Thursday surveying the damage wrought by the intense flames at Kabra and Stanwell, west of Rockhampton.
Fears about the intensity of the blaze and gale force winds led to the Gracemere evacuation and Ms Landry said the damage was obvious and confounding.
- Read more: Extreme weather fuelling infernos
“This is a strange scene to return to, the charred landscape serving as an immediate reminder of the intensity of yesterday’s flames,” she said
“Driving around the Kabra area, it’s obvious just how lucky people were to not have lost so much more.
“Property losses are limited, in the most part, to sheds and fences, though I am told of a couple of homes that have been lost.
“Regardless of the extent of damage, to have one’s property engulfed is a terrifying situation and our thoughts and support are with these families who have endured, and continue to endure, dangerous conditions.
“The weather is better today, though still hot and dry with gusty winds.
“Thankfully, the catastrophic conditions of Wednesday have abated however fire crews continue the arduous task of managing these very intense fires.”
According to Senator Matthew Canavan only 110 people took up the offer to go to the Rockhampton Showgrounds Evacuation Centre, which is testament to the community spirit of the people in central Queensland.
Senator Canavan also praised the tireless work of the Queensland Fire and Emergency services personnel for their timely intervention.
“It was the two 737 water bombers that arrived that really had a huge impact on the fire front and by 11pm a southerly wind kicked in and really helped save Gracemere,” he said.
“There are so many people to thank and commend from this event, but it is the overall community spirit that gets us through, and it will help us to recover.
“There have been huge amounts of grazing country lost, and this is a kick in the guts to the beef producers, so all we can do now is hope for rain.
“There is no structural damage in Gracemere from the fires, so that is good news.”
Trevor Humble from the Central Queensland Livestock Exchange situated to the west of the township said cattle that had already arrived for Friday‘s cattle sale were mustered from the paddocks and placed into holding pens with water coolers overhead for safety reasons.
“We were not in immediate risk but there was a hell of a lot of smoke in the air,” Trevor said
“Friday’s sale has now been cancelled and we have made the offer to locals offering temporary assistance to house their livestock.
“We have only put the offer out on social media, and already we have received some horses and other livestock mainly from hobby breeders in the area.”
The saleyard complex played hosts to the fire fighters and fire trucks during the night as they used the facility as a refilling depot using the fire hydrants based at the complex.
President of the Rockhampton Combined Selling Agents, Julian Laver, Landmark, confirmed Friday’s cattle sale has been cancelled.
“We had 750 head of store cattle already delivered and have already been able to sell a fair percentage of these cattle already,” Mr Laver said.
“We managed to stop a lot of clients who had booked cattle in that were not in the immediate fire danger area, and we are expecting a considerably larger yarding next week.”
More than 30 schools west of Rockhampton to Emerald have closed early, due to the extreme heat and bushfire threat.