New campers and visitors will be unable to access K’gari (Fraser Island) from 5pm today, as fire conditions are expected to worsen over the weekend.
In the interest of public safety, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Commissioner Greg Leach said the last barge to the island for new visitors will depart at 5pm from the mainland, due to the erratic nature and difficult conditions expected in the coming days.
“Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of residents and holidaymakers currently on the island, therefore only residents and people providing essential services will be able to move between the mainland and the island after 5pm today,” Mr Leach said.
“The fire is not currently threatening life, property or infrastructure, but it’s imperative these types of decisions are made early.”
Mr Leach said significant resources were being used to support ongoing firefighting operations, including the use of heavy machinery and water bombing aircraft.
“Several types of water bombing aircraft, including the Large Air Tanker (LAT) are being used to assist ground crews and strengthen containment lines to slow the progress of the blaze.
“It’s vital we make strategic decisions, including when and how we use aircraft to support crews.
“The terrain, the vegetation and the weather will always have an impact on these types of operations – we have to be flexible in our approach.”
He said residents and visitors currently on the island should remain vigilant and continue to follow the advice of authorities.
“Residents and visitors currently on K’gari (Fraser Island) should stay up-to-date by following QFES on social media, visiting the QFES Newsroom website and tuning into local radio,” he said.
“Residents and visitors currently on K’gari (Fraser Island) need to have a plan ready should the fire impact more populated areas such as checking in with their accommodation providers and visiting the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) website.”
Deputy Director-General QPWS Ben Klaassen said QPWS rangers, QFES crews and Butchulla representatives are putting in a tremendous effort, despite the fire burning in difficult vegetation and across tough terrain.
“The vegetation type on K’gari (Fraser Island) is coastal heath and is significantly impacting the way the fire burns,” Mr Klaassen said.
“The canopy of the vegetation is thick, and the coastal heath is extremely flammable and resilient to fire activity.”
Mr Klaassen said people on the island may be requested to leave further camping areas or day sites at short notice.
“It’s important campers and residents understand where the closures on the island are and how they impact their movements across the island,” he said.
“The closures are a measured step to assist crews in undertaking important firefighting operations.”
For health advice concerning smoke impacts visit www.health.qld.gov.au.