Huge night for firies who carved out 6km break against Widgee fire
FIREFIGHTERS will never rest easy in unpredictable weather conditions, but the rural firefighters battling the Black Snake blaze near Widgee can breathe a sigh of relief today after a mammoth effort successfully kept the most pressing part of the fire contained overnight.
More than 50 firefighters, working from 25 vehicles, spent a gruelling night securing a 6km containment line to block the fire that yesterday threatened up to 20 properties in the Thornside Rd and Upper Thornside Rd area near Widgee.
The fire is now 75% contained, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service incident controller inspector Warren Buckley confirmed this morning, with crews patrolling the north, west and southern lines today.
"Our plan worked overnight and it's continuing today and we're using the favourable weather conditions to our advantage," Mr Buckley said.
Rural fire inspector Goetz Graf, who is deployed to Gympie from Roma, said it was rough and slow-going for fireys who carved the containment line out of steep terrain in the dark, often taking an hour to create just 100m of the line.
A total of four square kilometres has been contained around the fire, Mr Graf said.
"The challenge you have with this environment is it's dark, it's steep terrain and you don't have the same concept of distance and depth.
"It's also a dirt road - there's only one way in and one way out."
Pinnacles, hills and ridges on the range also channelled the wind in varying and often dangerous ways, he said.
"Wind behind the fire pushes the head, if the wind changes suddenly the flank changes to the head," Mr Graf said.
"If the flank breaks out because of wind change there's a concern with entrapment."
The experienced firefighter said it had been vital to listen to weather data and use the knowledge of locals.
He said the number one challenge would remain the weather.
"You can have the best plan - but the wind does not always work on your side."
Gympie station officer Justin Groth said it was vital to keep hold of the containment lines today and tomorrow before more challenging weather potentially hit on the weekend.
Twenty-six vehicles are on scene today, with two water bombers attacking the blaze from the air.
"We anticipate the flank of the fire will move in a northerly direction, west of the control line that is currently being created," incident controller inspector Warren Buckley said.
"Even though we are working in better conditions today - we are still asking people to remain vigilant."
He said they would continue backburning around properties today.
He said there is a chance the fire could move and remain in thick scrub in the state forest at Black Mountain for weeks.
"Until we get rain this fire's going to keep going," he said.