END IN SIGHT: Hard work and preparation are paying of for fire crews, with bushfires in the region nearly their end for now. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL
END IN SIGHT: Hard work and preparation are paying of for fire crews, with bushfires in the region nearly their end for now. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL

UPDATE: Crews gain upper hand on multiple fires

THERE’S light at the end of the tunnel, local fire fighters have said.

After nearly a week of dangerous conditions and out of control blazes, crews have finally got the upper hand on bushfires burning in the Lockyer Valley.

David Clarke served as a divisional commander for fires in the Mulgowie area for three days and said the conditions crews had faced had been horrendous.

“We had high, unpredictable winds, which was throwing fire in all directions making it hard for rural firefighters to actually get in and fight the fire,” Mr Clarke said.

“It was very difficult conditions that we haven’t seen in a very long time – very unpredictable and very hard to contain.”

Thankfully, the fires that have plagued the region are coming to an end.

The fire at Laidley Creek West is completely contained, with crews monitoring what’s left.

Thornton, Lefthand Branch and Ingoldsby fires are all burning within containment lines, and crews are working with local land owners to monitor and strengthen the lines.

“It’s definitely a relief … we can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr Clarke said.

Rural fire service area director West Moreton acting inspector Paul Storrs said there was still plenty of work for crews to do, and the region wasn’t out of the woods yet.

“We still have between two and four days’ work to consolidate those containment lines,” Insp Storrs said.

“The rural fire brigades in West Moreton have really dug deep and done an awful lot of work to do this.”

With many of the crews fighting fire on their own turf, Insp Storrs said it had been a difficult time for many volunteers.

“Something that’s amazed me is these guys have been fighting fires and then going home to find out if their homes are still there,” he said.

Thankfully, no homes had been lost to the fires, although several sheds had been destroyed.

The effort to control the blazes has been a mammoth undertaking, with both rural fire services and fire and rescue teams working together, as well as support from police, ambulance crews, the SES and Salvation Army.

Rural fire service strike teams from Toowoomba and the Western Downs had also joined the fight earlier this week.

Insp Storrs said the local government had also been heavily involved and had been a “godsend”.

Firefighters battle an out of control blaze at Thornton, photographed by local farmer Craig McIntyre.
Firefighters battle an out of control blaze at Thornton, photographed by local farmer Craig McIntyre.

Blaze continues to burn nearly two months on

FEW could have predicted the destuction that would unfold when lightning struck a tree in Glen Rock National Park.

Nearly two months on, and the fire sparked by the lightning strike continues to burn.

Having caused huge destruction in October, the blaze continued to smoulder in difficult to reach terrain before rearing its ugly head again last week.

It would go on to create the out of control fires crews desperately fought to contain at Thornton, Lefthand Branch and Ingoldsby.

Thankfully, dangerous conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday which saw fires across Queensland and New South Wales grow dangerously strong had limited impact in the Lockyer Valley.

Insp Storrs said a combination of fire locations, the impact of the winds and preparations local crews had put in place meant crews were able to stay in control.

“But a lot of it has to come back to the hard work of the volunteers and the fire and rescue officers, and the SES guys to deliver those frontline services,” he said.

While fires in the Lockyer Valley caused by the Glen Rock fire are now contained, a separate flame front was continuing to burn towards Taroome.

Insp Storrs warned the fire in the national park could flare again.

“This is the sad news – because of the condition of the forest with the extended drought, anything is possible,” he said.

“Until we get two or three inches of rain over that fire, or it runs out of fuel it’s going to be very hard.”

The fire has now burnt through more than 21,000 hectares of land.

Crews will monitor the area until significant rain arrives.


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