EMERGENCY UPDATE | One Home Destroyed, Thousands Evacuated
One home has been completely destroyed and thousands of people have been evacuated, after a fire broke out at Cooroibah on Friday.
Police and Fire crews provided an update to the media in Maroochydore on Saturday afternoon.
Acting Superintendent Rob Graham said "The key areas of concern are in the Lake Cooroibah, Noosa North Shore and Tewantin areas".
He explained that significant evacuations have taken place overnight. "Latest reassessed numbers are around 6,000 people out of 4,900 homes evacuated, those evacuations are self evacuations, assisted evacuations and a lot of people went into evacuation centres that have been set up around the Sunshine Coast".
"Today [Saturday] brought different and variable weather conditions, from the outset, people might have thought that the wind had died down, it certainly hasn't, as the sun certainly started to come up and...the temperatures started to rise, the conditions started to get quite volatile and variable once again".
Acting Superintendent Graham stressed that there are still spot fires across the area and the threat is very real so urged people to please not to return to their homes. There are currently two emergency level alerts for Cooroibah and Noosa North Shore.
He also asked people who own drones to leave them on the ground and certainly not operate them within the affected area.
Acting Superintendent Graham advised that one home has been destroyed and the resident is aware of the situation and is being offered support. The home that has been destroyed was on Lake Cooroibah Road, adding he believes it was a shed that had been converted into living quarters.
He said several sheds and vehicles have also been claimed by the various fires.
Emergency services are currently working on a 'staged return plan' for people who have been displaced. That will only happen once the "Threat has passed" he said, and it is difficult to say when that will be.
Acting Superintendent Graham also made it clear that there are areas within the fire zone where people would not be able to return on Saturday night, possibly even for days.
For those people who have been forced to leave their homes, he assured them that their properties are being protected. He said Police are keeping an eye out for looters, adding there haven't been any cases of looting reported at this stage.
Acting Superintendent Graham said we do have five evacuation centres. 250 people are staying at the Noosa Leisure Centre, which has reached its capacity. The J at Noosaville Junction is accommodating 112 people. 18 people are calling the Cooroy Library home, another 35 are at the Noosaville Library and a further 90 are staying at the Christian Outreach Centre. A number of horses are currently staying at the Pomona Showgrounds.
QFES Inspector Cameron Herbert said they have around 35 fire appliances at the Cooroibah area of concern, "The fire is contained at this stage, but with this ever changing conditions there has [sic] been residents evacuated from these certain areas but we do have sufficient resources, we have been relieved...the overnight crews as you can understand are feeling very fatigued from working all day yesterday [Friday] and all night last night".
"We've had crews come from as far away as Rockhampton and Toowoomba this morning [Saturday] to assist with the fire fighting operation" he said those crews are a mix of volunteer, part time and permanent Firefighters.
In terms of the weather forecast, Inspector Herbert said there is a "predicted south easterly to come into effect this afternoon [Saturday] but as we've seen with that fire, the weather conditions play a massive part, it's been swirling in different directions playing havoc with make the firefighting efforts and predictions difficult, therefore that's why there has been an over large area of concern that we have evacuated residents from to ensure that all of the public is safe".
The other blaze emergency crews are concerned about is at Peachester, Booroobin. "We have approximately ten appliances and two aerial assets at that asset" QFES Inspector Herbert. No properties are at risk in this area.
Inspector Herbert said their aerial assets, including water bombers, are searching for dams to source water from. He said Firefighters have been speaking to landholders before taking water from their catchments, saying the weather and lack of rainfall means they could risk someone's livelihood by simply taking the water and not asking.
Police have indicated that the Cooroibah fire may have sparked from the Teewah blaze, which has been burning for the past week.
Residents who have evacuated are being urged to register with Register, Find and Reunite.