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Winfield residents urged to leave, concerns for Stradbroke Island fires but cyclone expected to miss Queensland

Sunday December 2, 2018 - 23:53 EDT
ABC image
The fire at Baffle Creek has flared up. - ABC

Residents in Winfield, north of Bundaberg, have been advised to leave immediately as a bushfire burns near Baffle Creek, while concerns remain for the blaze burning on Stradbroke Island.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) said leaving immediately was the safest option for Winfield residents, as it would soon be too dangerous to drive.

"If you cannot leave, identify where you will seek shelter from the bushfire. If you are not in the area, do not return, as conditions are too dangerous," QFES said in a statement.

It said the Winfield blaze was burning south of Coast Road, north of Baffle Creek, and travelling south. If embers from the fire crossed Baffle Creek, it would impact the area between Ferry Road and Winfield.

The fire is part of the massive Deepwater blaze that broke out last weekend.

"Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing. The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path. Fire crews may not be able to protect your property," QFES said.

Changing winds heighten concerns for Stradbroke

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a community meeting would be held in Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island this morning over the fire threat.

She said very dry conditions and the changing wind conditions meant residents needed to keep their radios nearby or watch updates on TV to ensure their safety.

"We are expecting changes in wind conditions and of course that could have an impact, especially in relation to smoke coming over to Russell and Macleay Island," Ms Palaszczuk said.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Bruce Gunn said the unpredictable winds would continue into the early hours of the morning and constant vigilance was required.

"There is a wind change that's going to be moving across the state tonight, overnight, over Stradbroke Island … and those winds are going to turn from the north all the way to more of a southerly direction and being quite gusty," he said.

"This is in the middle of the night, the early hours, 3:00 or 4:00am, we can expect some erratic conditions to unfold.

"We just have to be prepared for that, and I know local people are well-informed and on the job being vigilant."

Mr Gunn said the wind conditions could facilitate thunderstorms, which could make conditions even more unpredictable for firefighters.

"With that wind change that is heading over Stradbroke Island, by the time it moves north in the afternoon to the Capricornia and the Wide Bay area, we are expecting some severe thunderstorms to occur around the coastal area," he said.

"If a severe thunderstorm does interact with a fire in the area, it can have unpredictable consequences. So that's another thing to remain vigilant for."

Cyclone Owen predicted to miss Queensland coast

BOM confirmed Tropical Cyclone Owen had indeed formed in the northern Coral Sea, but that it was not expected to make a telling impact on the state's coast.

"We will publish the track map with Cyclone Owen as a category one system. We think it could reach as high as a category two system overnight, but there is no direct threat to the Queensland coast at this stage," Mr Gunn said.

Mr Gunn added it would be drifting slowly to the south-west and remain offshore, before weakening to below tropical cyclone strength by Wednesday.

Authorities have told Captain Creek residents near Agnes Water to be ready to follow their bushfire survival plan, with the bushfire there listed as a "watch and act".

At 5:00pm AEST, an unpredictable fire was burning in a south-easterly direction towards Davies Road, Oyster Creek Dam Road, Creevey Drive and Murphy Road, to the north of Baldwin Road.

There is also a watch-and-act advice issued for the township of Karara in the Darling Downs, with a fire travelling from Strathyre Road towards Toowoomba Karara Road at 4:00pm AEST.

Embers are expected to impact the area south of Strathyre Road, Millmerran Road and Toowoomba Karara Road as soon as 7:00pm on Sunday night.

"Karara was a concern earlier in the day, but with the aircraft support that [concern] has decreased, but certainly again it is being monitored. Stay tuned and listen to authorities," said.

The warnings for Carmila, south of Mackay, have been downgraded with the large fire burning near Carmila West Road and Majors Road now contained.

However, residents in the area will be affected by smoke, which will reduce visibility and air quality.

Around 115 fires continue to burn around the state, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has warned it could be three or four days before relief arrives, with no significant rain on the horizon in central Queensland.


© ABC 2018

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