AS IT HAPPENED: Fire crews battle Cyprus Gardens fire
WHAT WE KNOW
- A large bushfire continues to burn at Cypress Gardens and Forest Ridge.
- Currently as at 1.30pm Thursday 5 December, a large fire is burning in the vicinity of Cypress Avenue, Wallaby Drive, Koala Drive, Paddys Creek Road, Thyme Avenue, Basil Drive, Sage Road, Rosemary Court, Bay Road, Kimberley Drive and the Gore Highway, Cypress Gardens. It has impacted these roads and could have a significant impact on the community.
- An evacuation centre is now open at the Millmerran Showgrounds, Millmerran Cecil Plains Road, Millmerran.
- The Gore Highway is closed between Cypress Gardens and the BP at Captains Mountain.
- Residents are asked not to return as conditions are too dangerous.
- Crews will continue working to strengthen containment lines throughout the day. Aircraft will also be working in the area. Due to weather conditions, the fire is still active and dangerous.
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THURSDAY, 1.30PM: RESIDENTS evacuated from their properties at Forest Ridge and Cypress Garden have a long wait ahead before they can return home.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Service damage assessment teams are combing through ashes, west of Captains Mountain, to identify fallen trees and powerlines, along with remaining hot spots.
They will also visit the sites of structures feared lost to the fire.
The teams will report to QFES incident controllers later today.
If deemed safe, the Gore Highway will be reopened. However, QFES public information officer Mike Young said this could take all afternoon.
"Until we get feedback from those teams, we cannot make a decision," he said.
"We have not got on top of the fire yet, but we are getting there.
"It is no longer a fast-moving fire and we have plenty of crews out there along with seven planes in the air."
The fire front stretches about 4km and is heading in a north-eastern direction.
Mr Young described it as long, narrow fire that entered parts of the Western Creek State Forest.
Cypress Gardens resident Wendy Moline is one the evacuees.
"Our part of the fire was on the southern side, near Koala Drive," she said.
"We left about 3pm yesterday."
Ms Moline is confident her home - and those of her neighbours - are safe.
"A friend of ours was not evacuated and they drove along our street this morning to check on our home," she said.
A leave now notice remains in place.
THURSDAY, 11.30AM: TOOWOOMBA Mayor Paul Antonio says work undertaken by firefighters today will be "critical" in containing the Cyprus Gardens fire.
"It really depends on weather conditions, that's the big problem," the Mayor said.
Cr Antonio said roughly 50 people spent the night at an evacuation centre at the Millmerran Showgrounds, and there were still about 30 people there today.
"Once again you've seen the community of Millmerran all come together in an effort to help those in need, it's really quite amazing what I've seen," he said.
Cr Antonio said the community had brought mattresses, blankets, pillows, food and more to the showgrounds to support those who had to evacuate.
"The whole community came together," he said.
"The Lions Club covered themselves in glory when they did the cooking, the local hospital was involved."
Cr Antonio said the council's priority today, as it was in any emergency, was to "protect life".
"Our staff have been doing such an amazing job, as have QFES and the other agencies."
The fire is also threatening some of Cr Antonio's cattle properties.
"It's fair to say some of our country is very much in the fire line if it breaks out," he said.
"We are managing that now, getting our livestock out of timber country and into open country, protecting the houses.
"It's heartbreaking, I find it very hard."
Darling Downs Public Health Unit Director Dr Penny Hutchinson said with smoke from a bushfire near Millmerran affecting some communities in the region, residents were urged to take precautions and minimise exposure to smoke.
"Increased amounts of smoke and particulates from ash in the air due to bushfires can pose risks for some members of the community," said Darling Downs Public Health Unit Director Dr Penny Hutchinson.
"The groups most at risk are the elderly, the very young, and people with existing medical conditions, such as asthma, heart disease and other lung or respiratory illnesses."
Dr Hutchinson said anyone taking medications for these conditions should keep them close by and be vigilant in taking their medications.
"If people with asthma experience symptoms due to exposure to smoke we recommend following their asthma management plan, but if they do so and they still experience symptoms they should seek medical advice immediately," she said.
"Anyone experiencing breathing difficulty should call triple-zero and seek urgent medical assistance."
Dr Hutchinson said the most effective way to avoid exposure to smoke was to stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed.
"If air conditioning is available it's advisable to have it on a recycle or recirculating setting," Dr Hutchinson said.
"This may not be possible, particularly for people without air conditioning during hot conditions, so in this case another option is to seek an alternative air-conditioned location for the day, such as a local library or shopping centre."
Anyone with concerns can call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for health advice and assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A leave now notice remains in place for Cypress Gardens and Forest Ridge.
THURSDAY, 8.45AM: THERE are fears properties have been lost to a fast-moving bushfire near Millmerran.
The large fire sparked evacuations yesterday.
It's continuing to burn near Cypress Gardens and Forest Ridge. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner John Bolger says there are unconfirmed reports that two structures have been lost but it's not known if they are sheds or houses.
"We're not sure of the number of properties that we've lost," he has told the ABC.
"But we'll have aircraft up and ground crews as soon as it's safe to get in there and assess any damage."
Cypress Gardens local Douglas Grist, who said he believed homes may have been lost to the blaze, fled to the community centre with his dog, Shadow.
" … I was really worried about my property," Douglas Grist told The Courier-Mail yesterday.
"My house was probably about one kilometre away from the fire (but) I went to check at about 6.30pm and the winds must have changed because it was safe."
A watch-and-act warning remains in place for residents of Cypress Gardens and Forest Ridge. People who don't have a bushfire plan have been advised to leave.
Those who left on Wednesday have been told it's not safe to return, with an evacuation centre is open at the Millmerran Showgrounds.
Part of the Gore Highway remains closed between Cypress Gardens and the BP at Captains Mountain. - Update by Sonia Kohlbacher, Isabella Magee, originally published on the Courier Mail.
THURSDAY, 6.40AM: THE Bureau of Meteorology says there will be a severe fire danger for the Darling Downs and Granite Belt for the next three days.
"It's very, very dry, so the combinations of the high temperatures and dry air is what's causing the elevated fire danger," Meteorologist Jess Gardner said.
"It will make for some very challenging firefighting conditions."
Ms Gardner said it would reach a top of 33 in Toowoomba today, 35 in Warwick and 39 in Gatton.
"(There won't be any relief) until Sunday, and even then it'll be a little bit," she said.
"It'll still be hot. You'll start to see a bit more moisture and humidity come in and that will ease those conditions a little."
She said the region was looking at westerly winds today of about 25km/hr.
About 50 people from Cyprus Gardens and Forest Ridge spent the night at the Millmerran Showgrounds evacuation centre.
30 fire crews worked through the night to strengthen the fire's containment lines.
THURSDAY, 6AM: A LEAVE now warning remains in place for Cypress Gardens and Forest Ridge residents, near Millmerran.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has advised there is a bushfire in the vicinity of Cypress Gardens and Forest Ridge (Millmerran) and conditions are getting worse.
"Currently as at 5.15am on Thursday, December 5, a large fire is burning in the vicinity of Cypress Avenue, Wallaby Drive, Koala Drive, Paddys Creek Road, Thyme Avenue, Basil Drive, Sage Road, Rosemary Court, Bay Road, Kimberley Drive and the Gore Highway, Cypress Gardens.
"It has impacted these roads and could have a significant impact on the community.
"Fire crews are working to contain the fire but firefighters may not be able to protect every property. You should not expect a firefighter at your door. Power, water, and mobile phone service may be lost."
The evacuation centre at the Millmerran Community Cultural Centre is no longer open.
An evacuation centre is now open at the Millmerran Showgrounds, Millmerran Cecil Plains Road, Millmerran.
The Gore Highway is closed between Cypress Gardens and the BP at Captains Mountain.
Residents should evacuate towards Millmerran, however those who have already left the area should not return as it is not safe to do so.
"People in the area will be affected by smoke, which will reduce visibility and air quality," QFES said.
"Follow your bushfire survival plan now. If you do not have a plan, your safest option is to leave now if it is clear to do so. If you are not in the area, do not return, as conditions are too dangerous."
"Call Triple Zero (000) immediately if you believe you are under threat."
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
Listen to your local radio station or visit the Rural Fire Service (RFS) website for regular updates.
Put on protective clothing (e.g., a long-sleeved cotton shirt, boots with thick soles).
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
If you are leaving:
- Secure your pets for safe transport.
- Check for road closures and then advise family and friends of your intended travel route.
- Take your important documents and essential items (e.g., passports, birth certificates, prescription medication, food and water, and protective clothing) when you leave.
- Drive with caution in low visibility conditions.
If you are unable to leave:
- Bring pets inside; restrain them with a leash, a cage, or inside a secure room; and provide them with plenty of water.
- Move flammable materials such as doormats, wheelie bins, and outdoor furniture away from your house.
- Fill containers such as your bath, sinks, and buckets with water so you have access to drinking water and firefighting water.
- Close windows and doors, sealing the gaps under doors and screens with wet towels to keep smoke out of the house.
- If you suffer from a respiratory condition, keep your medication close by.
KEEP UP TO DATE BY:
- Following QFES on Facebook (@QldFireandEmergencyServices) and Twitter (@QldFES)
- Staying tuned to your local radio station. Find your local ABC radio station at https://radio.abc.net.au/help/offline and your local commercial radio station at http://www.commercialradio.com.au/find-a-station/queensland;
- Visiting the Rural Fire Service (RFS) website at www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au/map
- 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