Prepare to leave warning for Crows Nest and Ravensbourne
WEDNESDAY. 6.30PM: PREPARE to leave notices have been issued for residents in the Ravensbourne, Crows Nest and Cressbrook Creek areas.
Currently as at 5.40pm Wednesday 20 November, an unpredictable fire continues to burn between Ravensbourne and the outskirts of Crows Nest.
This prepare to leave message is for residents north-west of Perseverance Dam Road, including Tin Mine Road, Perseverance Dam Road, Sebastapool Road, Three Mile Road, Dahl Road, Orchard Road, Pinnell Road, Grapetree Road and surrounding streets. The fire may impact these areas.
Fire crews have continued backburning operations in the area and are working to contain the fire. Waterbombing aircraft and heavy machinery will operate until last light.
Currently as at 5.50pm Wednesday 20 November, a slow-moving bushfire is burning on both sides of Esk Hampton Road between Horrex Road and Brennan Road.
The fire south of Esk Hampton Road remains contained and QFES crews will continue to work to strengthen containment lines and monitor the area. Waterbombing aircraft and heavy machinery will operate in the area until last light.
WEDNESDAY, 2.15PM: A WATCH and act message will remain in place for areas around Crows Nest until firefighters are comfortable describing the bushfire as controlled and contained.
Rural Fire Service Acting Inspector John Welke said a significant backburning operation with more than 100 firefighters yesterday put crews in a good position to potentially hold the fire at bay, depending on weather conditions.
Concerns this afternoon, however, are conditions between 4pm and 8pm when winds are predicted to change and increase.
"Thankfully through some very strong and very dedicated firefighting efforts from our crews on the fire ground yesterday, we have been able to establish a fire control line around the perimeter of the fire," he said.
"The fire is now just over 15,000 hectares in size which is a very significant fire by any stretch of the imagination.
"The fire control line we have in place have allowed firefighters to be able to traverse the entire perimeter and be able to deal with flare ups and spotfires, and indeed any controlled backburning that has needed to occur."
Strategic backburning operations, adding to the fuel load amid eased conditions, was a crucial move which has allowed crews to hold the fire at the Tin Mine firebreak.
That line will be strengthened and consolidated today and in coming days which Acting Inspector Welke said would ensure crews were able to bring the bushfire "to a level of control".
"We are far from calling this fire controlled or contained," he said.
"We have merely been able to establish a fire control line around the fire for firefighting personnel to access and combat the fire in some very rough and inaccessible terrain.
"For now the impact and the potential impact on the Crows Nest township has certainly eased."
Further strategic plans are in place in the event the bushfire breaks containment lines.
"Into the evening tonight, we are expecting a rather fresh east to north-easterly wind to come up and to have an effect on our fireground between around four o'clock and eight o'clock," Inspector Welke said.
"Crews are actively working to ensure those containment lines along the Tin Mine break area are consolidated, everything burnt back in and mopped up to ensure when the wind comes through tonight, we do not have any outbreaks of fire in that area.
"If we do have an outbreak, and only if, we already have containment lines identified further to the west to create a next layer of protection to Crows Nest township.
"The township and community is still going to remain on that watch and act message until we are prepared and comfortable the fire will not impact the Crows Nest township again."
Earlier: AN EXHAUSTIVE effort backburning rough terrain in Crows Nest and Ravensbourne has given firefighters hope containment lines could hold as weather conditions worsen today.
A drop in temperatures and wind speeds allowed Rural Fire Service and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service crews time to build and bolster containment lines and conduct backburning operations to try and control an erratic bushfire which destroyed at least five properties.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Inspector Mark Halverson said favourable conditions yesterday allowed crews to prepare as best as possible for the coming days which were expected to bring a return to extreme conditions.
"This fire has been extremely unpredictable from the start and particularly over the last few days where we've had extreme conditions," he said.
"With the unpredictability of the terrain around here with gullies, hills … we're finding wind direction can be accurate in one area but not too far around a gully or hill, the direction of the wind can be completely different.
"It makes firefighting extremely difficult."
The difficult conditions were exacerbated by residents in forested and remote areas in the Crows Nest, Ravensbourne and Cressbrook areas whose yards remained cluttered with no apparent preparation for bushfire season.
Heavy machinery was sent to remote areas to cut fire breaks around homes and give crews a fighting chance of saving structures should the situation turn.
Ground crews were helped by helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft completing waterbombing operations in trouble areas.
Their combined efforts were evident on Esk Hampton Rd where crews held the bushfire at bay to one side of the two-lane bitumen road.
"(Yesterday) was a day of some respite which allowed us to shore up and build more containment lines," he said.
"The forecast for the next couple of days has it ramping back up again so we have to deal with those immediate priorities and await a break in the weather which may allow us to take complete control of the fire.
"It's certainly an unpredictable fire travelling in many directions across many fronts."
Two prepare to leave warnings remain in place for Ravensbourne and the Cressbrook Creek/Crows Nest area.
Current warnings as of 6.15am:
PREPARE TO LEAVE: Ravensbourne (part of the Pechey fire) bushfire as at 5.35am Wed
Currently as at 5.35am Wednesday 20 November, a slow-moving bushfire is burning on both sides of Esk Hampton Road between Horrex Road and Brennan Road.
The fire south of Esk Hampton Road has now been contained.
QFES crews, with the help of heavy machinery, will continue to strengthen containment lines and monitor the area.
Firefighters may not be able to protect every property. You should not expect a firefighter at your door.
The evacuation centre at Highfields Recreation Centre, O'Brien Road, Highfields is now closed. The evacuation centre at the Crows Nest Showgrounds, near Showgrounds Terrace, remains opened.
Esk Hampton Road is open to local traffic between the New England Highway at Hampton and Esk.
Esk Hampton Road is closed to all traffic between Horrex Road and Regent Road, Ravensbourne.
People in the area will be affected by smoke, which will reduce visibility and air quality.
PREPARE TO LEAVE: Cressbrook Creek and Crows Nest (part of Pechey fire) bushfire as at 5.30am Wed
Currently as at 5.30am Wednesday 20 November, an unpredictable fire continues to burn between Ravensbourne and the outskirts of Crows Nest.
This prepare to leave message is for residents north-west of Perseverance Dam Road, including Tin Mine Road, Cressbrook Dam, Perseverance Dam Road, Sebastapool Road, Three Mile Road, Dahl Road, Creek Street, Dale Road, Jones Street, Church Road, Esk Street, William Street, Charles Street, Albert Street, South Street, Blinco Road, Orchard Road, Pinnell Road, Grapetree Road and surrounding streets. The fire may impact these areas.
Fire crews have completed backburning along Tin Mine Road and south towards Powerline Road, but will continue to work to contain the fire and extinguish any outbreaks. Firefighters may not be able to protect every property. You should not expect a firefighter at your door.
People will be affected by smoke, which will reduce visibility and air quality.
Motorists travelling northbound on Perseverance Dam Road are advised there are currently road closures in place at the Perseverance Dam Road and Grapetree Road intersection.
Road closures remain in place for motorists heading east on Three Mile Road, at the Dahl Road intersection. Seventeen Mile Road, beyond Walsh Road remains closed. Sebastapool Road, between Dahl Road and Bluff Road, is also closed.
An evacuation centre is open at the Crows Nest Showgrounds, New England Highway near Showgrounds Terrace.