Canungra rural firies in good spirits after a brutal weekend

UPDATE: 8am Monday

QFES advised in the early hours of this morning that the bushfire at Sarabah was still burning.

At 12.50am it was burning on the western side of Sarabah Road, south of Rymera Road, and slowly moving towards the north.

Properties were not under direct threat at that time.

QFES alert level: Stay Informed

At 1.18am QFES advised the Binna Burra fire was also still burning on both sides of Binna Burra Road, south of Summerville Road.

QFES alert level: Stay Informed

Yesterday, 6.10pm

FIREFIGHTERS from the Canungra Rural Fire Service have been working around the clock to hold back a fire that threatens properties in their home town.

With improved conditions overnight and today providing a slight respite from the ferocity of the blaze, they finished their shift this afternoon feeling relieved, if overtired.

Friendly banter was in evidence as the homespun heroes, faces and clothes blackened from their days at the fire front, paused for a rest at the Canungra Showgrounds.

Firefighter Steven Geiger said they were able to have a laugh after more than a week of fighting the fire.

"After yesterday's winds abated we've had abit of a break," he said.

"We were the first responders when the fire broke out Saturday week."

Mr Geiger said the crew would go home for a rest before possibly heading back out to the fire front tonight.

One of their number, Craig Finch, was in for some good-natured ribbing, with calls of "Finchy held the line and saved Canungra" after he spent yesterday monitoring a fire break on the ridge.

"I will never hear the end of this," he said laughingly.

EARLIER: 6pm

At 4.30pm QFES issued a Stay Informed alert for people in the area of a bushfire burning near Binna Burra Road, Binna Burra and travelling in an easterly direction towards Numinbah Valley.

This bushfire warning encompasses warnings previously known as "Springbrook" and "Numinbah Valley".

Fire crews and aircraft will be working in the area throughout the day in an effort to contain the fire.

Properties are not under direct threat at this time.

Call Triple Zero (000) immediately if you believe you or your property is under threat.

UPDATE 5.45pm

ABOUT 150 horses have been moved from properties under threat from bushfires around Canungra, Beechmont and Binna Burra in the last two days.

Among them is 26-year-old Tara, who was brought to the showgrounds on Sunday where she was treated by a vet for burns to her face, stomach and legs.

She had spent the night alone on an 800 acre, fire-affected property after she could not be located during an emergency evacuation.

Meanwhile, resident Karen Feist brought about seven of her horses down to the showgrounds after police knocked on her door and suggested her family evacuate.

"(The fire has) been burning for five days and we've had enough," she said.

"I just wish it would be over."

UPDATE 3.30pm

BEECHMONT State School will be closed tomorrow as fires continue to make road conditions dangerous.

Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen said the school had not been significantly impacted by the fire but roads in surrounding areas could be dangerous due to falling trees.

Cr Christensen said the Binna Burra Lodge had been completely destroyed.

It came as emergency services began to escort some evacuees back to their homes to deal with any urgent matters like animal care.

A QFES spokesman said about 10 properties were known to have been affected, but that figure could rise as properties were assessed. Currently, many areas were still inaccessible.

He said 200 firefighters were combating the blazes, and a number of aircraft were also in use.

"Resources are no issue," he said.

He said a reprieve in conditions - including a drop in wind speeds - would present opportunities for firefighters to more easily tackle the blazes from Tuesday.

Cr Christensen said residents should remain vigilant.

"This is not a time to relax," he said.

The fire ban has been extended until 11.59pm on Sunday, September 15.

UPDATE: 1pm

A BEECHMONT family is counting their blessings today after firefighters successfully defended their property for the third time yesterday.

Sarah and Terry Monahan and their nine-year-old daughter Marley have been staying at the Canungra Showgrounds in their campervan since they self-evacuated on Friday.

Ms Monahan said they had also moved their livestock safely off the property.

"We have cattle, horses, dogs, cats and chickens," she said.

"Who knows when we can get them back home, for now we can't go back ourselves because there is no power or water.

"Our water supply is halfway up the hill, it comes from a spring and it's all burned now, we'll have to replace all the piping and tanks."

Ms Monahan said she had been astounded by the generosity of strangers and members of the community.

"Marley has diabetes and a lady dropped of some insulin," she said.

"These are people we don't even know and I can't even say how thankful we are."

Ms Monahan also acknowledged the heroism of the firefighters on Beechmont.

"We have three houses up there and they saved them twice," she said.

"We thought everything had calmed down yesterday and then the wind changed and our place had to be waterbombed again.

"The fire came right up to the walls, we thought they would be destroyed - I spoke to one of the firefighters who defended our place and he said it was really scary."

UPDATE 12pm

THE community has rallied behind Dennis and Tracey Beggs, who are camping out with 36 horses after they evacuated their Beechmont property.

Some are horses the Beggs family had taken to their home from under-threat properties on Lamington National Park Road.

When their own property came under threat, they were faced with the mammoth task of evacuating themselves, several dogs and puppies as well as the horses.

"I was up every hour on the hour, checking on the fire and thinking what we were going to do," Ms Beggs said.

"We had to leave very quickly because the fire was moving so fast.

"We thought we were organised but then a few things changed."

After the evacuation call was made, the community rallied behind the Beggs family, with 10 floats belonging to friends and neighbours taking about two hours to move the animals.

Meanwhile, other community members donated feed and bales of hay.

"The spirit of the community is wonderful," Ms Beggs said.

"We're so grateful."

The couple arrived at the showgrounds on Saturday afternoon, and said they had been told they would not be able to return home until at least Tuesday.

They do not know yet how their property has fared in the fire.

"We're very lucky - we saw the fire going through behind us and it was roaring right towards the houses," Ms Beggs said.

In the meantime, they would remain with their horses, sleeping in a tent next to the makeshift horse enclosure.

Ms Beggs said some of the horses were stressed but they were getting on quite well.

The Beggs family will be among those attending a community meeting hosted by council, QFES and QPS at 2pm.

The meeting at the Moriarty Park refuge centre is for those who have left their homes in Beechmont and those who are housing them.

UPDATE: 11.30am

CANUNGRA volunteers coordinating distribution of staple grocery items to people forced to flee their homes due to the bushfires say they have been overwhelmed by the community's generosity.

Tamlyn Geiger, the wife of Canungra's fire chief, said they had people had at first turned up to the showgrounds with home-baked food.

"We had to put the word out that we couldn't accept anything not packaged," she said.

"The thing is, people see what's happening here and they want to help the only way they can, by bringing food.

"We have also had plenty of donations of groceries including pet food from Bunnings, Baker's Delight, Woolworths and Coles."

Ms Geiger said they were now taking donations of personal hygiene products and were in contact with volunteers at Beechmont who were catering for workers at the fire front.

"We have the RRT providing cooked meals here in Canungra but up there the cooking is being done by local ladies," she said.

"We've been in touch and they have plenty of food for now, but if they need supplies we can send them up.

Rapid Response Team members have been on the ground preparing meals for three days and Ms Geiger says they are running out of plastic plates.

"They have been serving about 400 meals each breakfast, lunch and dinner," she said.

"So now we need plastic plates and instant coffee if anyone can help."

"What's happening now is people can come here from the refuge centre and we will put together a grocery pack for them to take with them."

Meanwhile, the Canungra Op Shop is also accepting donations, said shop manager Caroline Andrew.

"There are people who want to donate cash, so we were asked to step into the role of collecting those donations," she said.

"We are a registered charity and people here know is and trust us, so it made sense for us to be a collection point for that."

Ms Andrew said the shop would be open until 3pm today to provide basic items of clothing for people who have evacuated over the past three days.

"If anyone is in a situation where they are lacking basic clothing, they can just pop in and let us know they have been impacted by the fire and we will be happy to help them," she said.

"For people who want to donate items, we have plenty of clothing but could do with blankets and bedding."

UPDATE: 11am

FIREFIGHTERS from Ormeau Rural Fire Service are working at Moriarty Park in Canungra to keep the aerial water bomber filled.

Firefighter Ian Holm said they were refilling an inflatable "dam" called a ring tank to enable the helicopter pilot to hover overhead and suction water without having to land.

""It just makes it easier for them, there are not too many dams around with water in them," he said.

UPDATE:10.15am Sunday

QFES has announced the situation is still severe in the Beechmont area, specifically at Binna Burra, where the Binna Burra Resort Lodge has sustained significant damage.

Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen said the resort was impacted earlier this morning.

"At the moment it's impossible for firefighters to access the lodge. Aerial tracking is under way but there is significant structural damage."

Division three councillor Virginia West said narrow roads and fallen trees made driving conditions dangerous around the area.

For those who have left their homes in Beechmont, council, QFES and QPS will hold a community meeting at the Moriarty Park refuge centre at 2pm.

The meeting is for those who have been displaced and people who are housing them. After the meeting, police will escort people up to Beechmont to check their homes wherever it is safe to do so.

Cr West said it was great to see that people were able to stay with friends and family.

"However, we are urging displaced residents to register with the Red Cross because the police need to know where they are."

UPDATE: 8.30am Sunday

LOW humidity and high winds are set to continue across the south-east until Tuesday, making conditions challenging for firefighters still working to control blazes.

BOM meteorologist Harry Clark said wind speeds around the Scenic Rim and Gold Coast hinterland were expected to be about 25 to 35 kilometres during the day.

"We're going to see still quite gusty south-westerly winds for today and tomorrow, easing slightly on Tuesday, and quite dry conditions as well, so really low relative humidity continuing for the next few days," he said.

Temperatures - which soared to the mid-30s late last week - were expected to reach about 24 degrees in the coming days.

According to BOM, fire danger in the south-east will be very high on Sunday and Monday, dropping to high with the ease in wind speeds on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Red Cross is asking people impacted by the fires to register on their website to let family and friends know they are safe.

An enquiry can also be lodged for those trying to find someone in bushfire affected areas.

RESCUED: A koala and her joey were rescued from bushfires in the Gold Coast hinterland. Photo: Derek Finch

RESCUED: A koala and her joey were rescued from bushfires in the Gold Coast hinterland. Photo: Derek Finch

UPDATE: 5am Sunday

QUEENSLAND Fire and Emergency Services advise the bushfire in Binna Burra is still burning and conditions could get worse.

Those who have left the area, do not return as conditions are too dangerous. Binna Burra Road remains closed.

Anyone in the area needs to be ready to follow their bushfire survival plan. If you do not have a plan, or intend to leave, you should be ready to leave the area because the situation could get worse quickly.

The fire is burning on both sides of Binna Burra Road, south of Summerville Road, travelling east towards Numinbah Valley and Springbrook.

A place of refuge has been opened at the Moriarty Park Community Sports Centre, 37 Coburg Road, Canungra.

Residents who have evacuated should await further instruction from authorities before returning to the area.

Call triple zero immediately if you believe your property is under threat.

KEEP UP TO DATE BY:

FURTHER INFORMATION:

For bushfire preparation tips, visit the RFS website: www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au/BushFire_Safety. For information about road closures, call 13 19 40 or visit www.qldtraffic.qld.gov.au

UPDATE: 3.55pm

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has updated the alert for Beechmont residents to Watch and Act level.

QFES advises there is a bushfire approaching Beechmont and conditions could get worse.

You need to be ready to follow your bushfire survival plan. If you do not have a plan, or intend to leave, you should be ready to leave the area because the situation could get worse quickly.

Currently a dangerous and unpredictable fire is burning close to the Beechmont area.

The fire is likely to impact the Beechmont area, including Beechmont Road, South West Road, Windabout Road and adjoining streets.

UPDATE 12.40PM

A KOALA, injured in fires at Canungra and found cradling her joey, has been rescued by police.

Police also rescued a black staffie from a house on Timbarra Drive shortly before fires ravaged through the area.

Beaudesert police officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Peter Waugh said police were helping evacuate people from the bushfires about 4.30pm on Friday when they spotted the koala and joey on a stump.

Read the full story here.

Meanwhile Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has advised residents in the Sarabah to keep up to date and decide what actions to take if the situation changed.

As at 12.40pm on Saturday a bushfire was burning near Lamington National Park and Tabletop Road. This fire was travelling in an easterly direction towards Lamington National Park and Binna Burra.

For Witheren residents, QFES said at 12.45pm, a bushfire was burning west of Darlington Range Road.

UPDATE: 11.40am

A COMMUNITY briefing has been called for people who have been affected by the devastating bushfire that ripped through Lamington National Park to Binna Burra overnight.

Mayor Greg Christensen joined QFES Assistant Commissioner Kevin Walsh and Chief Superintendent Ben Marcus at a press briefing at Canungra Showgrounds this morning.

The mayor reiterated that rubberneckers should stay away from the area.

"We do urge people who have been displaced or they need help of any sort to come forward, they are welcome to go to the refuge centre at Moriarty Park at 3pm," he said.

"It's not over yet, council will be working with emergency services at least through Sunday and moving into the recovery stage, hopefully early next week."

The mayor said he was proud of the Scenic Rim community and their desire to help.

"However, we need to focus on being safe and paying attention to the current alerts and not getting on the road uneccessarily.

"When the need for volunteers changes, we will communicate this to the community."

Assistant Police Commissioner Ben Marcus described the loss of property as a "tragic event".

"Our hearts go out to people who have lost property," he said.

"This isn't over.. it was a challenging night last night, those challenges still remain today and will remain for the next few days until the middle of next week."

UPDATE 11.10am

QFES have advised that conditions at Binna Burra and Witheren could get worse.

People who have left are advised not to return as conditions are too dangerous.

Binna Burra Road is closed.

"Anyone in the area needs to be ready to follow their bushfire survival plan," QFES said.

"If you do not have a plan, or intend to leave, you should be ready to leave the area because the situation could get worse quickly."

At 11am on Saturday a fire was travelling from Binna Burra Road in an easterly direction towards Numinbah Valley and Springbrook.

At 11.10am on Saturday the fire was also travelling easterly from Sarabah towards Climax Court, Limerick Drive, Upper Coomera Road and Beechmont Road. The fire was likely to impact Witheren.

Aircraft and ground crews will be working in the area throughout the day.

An evacuation centre has been opened at the Moriarty Park Community Sports Centre, 37 Coburg Road, Canungra.

"Residents who have evacuated should await further instruction from authorities before returning to the area," QFES said.

EARLIER

SCENIC Rim mayor Greg Christensen has asked well-wishers and rubberneckers to stay away from the areas affected by a large bushfire that ripped its way through areas around Canungra, Binna Burra and Beechmont on Friday night.

"The people there are doing it tough, with significant loss of property last night," he said.

"They are still conducting a survey but we know that at least five homes have been lost around the Timbarra precinct."

DEVASTATION: The wind carried embers from the bushfire more than five kilometres, says the mayor.

DEVASTATION: The wind carried embers from the bushfire more than five kilometres, says the mayor.

Cr Christensen said the windy conditions on Friday night saw fire spotting from the Sarabah bushfire affecting areas more than five kilometres from the fire front.

"Firefighters worked all night but because of the topography of the area and the dense foliage around properties there was nothing they could do," he said.

"We have an evacuation centre at Tamborine but we are considering changing the place of refuge to Canungra.

"We have more than 150 fire appliances on the ground and they need to have priority on the road.

"It is a dangerous situation around the Beechmont corridor where we now have 50 or 60 metre trees that have been burned and are coming down at random.

"Rubberneckers are not welcome and I would ask people who may want to offer help to stay away for now.

"So far we have had great support from locals who have stayed off the road.

"The message to everyone is stay calm, stay in place, monitor the QFES warnings and be prepared to follow your bushfire survival plan."