A FIRESTORM which threatened the town of Eungella amid Queensland’s worst bushfire disaster has wiped out paddocks and dense tropical rainforest.
The fire had been burning in the region for about four weeks before it suddenly flared up last week amid catastrophic conditions.
The RACQ-CQ Rescue helicopter evacuated 10 people from the fire zone on Friday afternoon after roads were cut leaving them with nowhere to flee.
Eungella Chalet manager Tess Ford said the fire started moving up the face of the range on Thursday and by Friday the firestorm was threatening the community.
“We did get evacuated for a few hours in the afternoon when the fire storm threatened the community to the hall,” Ms Ford said.
“It was raining ash all over the hall.
“By the time it got to that point, it was like there was too many people to get out, there was no road out of here and at that moment we were just trusting in God, that the many tanks and firies would be able to stop it.”
Ms Ford said she had spoken to Mayor Greg Williamson to update him on the critical situation.
“I told him we had evacuated the Chalet and it was undefended and if we don’t get the bomber we’re going to lose the community and a whole heap of people.
“That big dump of water along the edge of the council and fire sheds and caravan park cooled it right off, so the firies could get a bit of a break on it.
”No body has ever seen anything like this, we’re in the rainforest, we do cyclones and floods, we don’t do fires.”
Ms Ford said the community had banded together to help feed the 200 strong team fighting the fires during the peak of the emergency, with most operating on little to no sleep.
Fires also threatened communities in Sarina Beach and Finch Hatton, while further north fires were also burning around Mount Fox, Cardwell and on the Atherton Tablelands.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Regional Incident Controller Superintendent Mark Stuart said 54 fires were still burning in the region from Baffle Creek to Airlie Beach and in western areas on Monday.
“We still had approximately 100 vehicles on the scene across the region,” Mr Stuart said.
“Conditions over the last week to ten days have been very trying for firefighters, with extremely hot days and low humidity which has meant the moisture of the fuel has been extremely low and created extremely intense fire fighting conditions.
“This combined with the strong, dry winds that increasingly fanned fires making is extremely difficult to combat.
“Personally, I’ve not seen anything like this in Queensland before, it is unprecedented with the dry temperatures and strong wind.”
Mr Stuart praised the effort of both paid and volunteer firefighters who travelled from across Australia to help.
There was some relief for firefighters and residents on Monday evening with isolated rain in the area.
Conditions were expected to continue to improve with the temperature starting to drop from Tuesday.
With the threat still present in much of the state, Mr Stuart urged residents to be vigilant.
“If people are in a situation where their property or themselves are in danger they should dial triple zero.
“It’s a timely reminder that residents should be preparing their bushfire survival plan.”