Summer has barely started and we’ve already been hit with 40+ degree days, wild storms, and now, a bushfire has burned almost half of K’gari (Fraser Island). And it’s been burning since October.
The NSW Rural Fire Service deployed an aid tanker on Monday afternoon to assist Queensland authorities battling the fire.
This morning, residents of Happy Valley were issued an immediate evacuation order when the blaze came within 700 metres of the township. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) told residents the blaze was coming “with a vengeance” and would soon make the roads too dangerous to escape.
Although firefighters have been back-burning in an attempt to reduce the fire’s impact, QFES warned residents that if they didn’t leave soon, firefighters may soon run out of options to protect them.
“Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing,” QFES said.
“The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path. Fire crews may not be able to protect your property. You should not expect a firefighter at your door: act now.”
The blaze started with an illegal campfire in October – so it’s been burning for over a month – and has burned 80,000 of the island’s 165,000 hectares.
If you’re trying to get a sense of the scale of destruction of the bushfires on Fraser Island, compare these two satellite images. The first from Oct 1, second Nov 30. Notice the burnt regions appear a reddish colour (pics @sentinel_hub) pic.twitter.com/0dn2lkP0ZD
— Declan Bowring (@DeclanBowring) December 6, 2020
More than 50 of the town’s residents have remained to help fight the fires, the New Daily reports.
Residents say they have spent 18 months working on protecting their homes. Happy Valley residents say they have been working on hazard reduction and building fire breaks with the help of a fellow resident and former RFS inspector.
It’s Been Left Burning Because Firefighters Aren’t Supported. Still.
Sure, the residents are prepared. But let’s not look past the fact that the fire has been burning for seven weeks. And they have only just been upgraded to an “emergency” warning.
In the mean-time, half the island has burned. Residents have been evacuated. But they’re only just getting interstate help now?
So what is the justification for Australia not having a fleet of firefighting planes?
Fraser Island has been on fire for a MONTH!
This AFTER our year of continent wide cataclysmic firestorms
Warnings and alarms are STILL being ignored..
Morrison’s dereliction of duty is total
— Max Black ⚫️ (@maxblackhole) December 6, 2020
That’s not an indictment on the work of the NSWRFS, or any of the Fire Services pitching in to put out the blaze. In fact, it’s an applause for them rallying to get the air tanker over there (although it would’ve been better if they could’ve rallied a little faster). But that’s not their fault.
Because the Prime Minister is so resistant to establishing a national fire-fighting fleet – one recommended by the royal Commission into last season’s fires – that he’s kept everything in the hands of the states.
Wondering why Fraser Is. has been allowed to burn for 7 weeks and NOW this tanker is deployed?
— ??My dogs sometimes write my tweets?? (@Shills70) December 6, 2020
Instead of funding the states’ fire-fighting services and training programs, he’d rather pour it into new Defence Force toys. And then he’s happy for his colleagues to brag about spending billions on those toys during Question Time.
He’d rather spend money that could protect thousands of homes and families, on detaining one family on Christmas Island.
As you read Twitter, the fires at Fraser Island are now at emergency level.
If @ScottMorrisonMP had established a national aerial firefighting fleet, this could have been stopped earlier.
Instead a national icon is being burnt to the ground. What does it take for him to act? ? pic.twitter.com/8MHJWa8fFQ
— JON DEE (JonDee.com) (@JonDeeOz) December 6, 2020
Apparently, he’d rather shake empty, traumatised hands in razed towns like Cobargo than hold them and protect them from harm.
If 80% of the Blue Mountains being burned in last season’s blazes and, now, almost 50% of Fraser Island – UNSECO World Heritage listed sites – isn’t enough to spark action, I don’t know what will.
Image Sources: Twitter (@qldfes, @thenewpaper, @newsaboutlife)