Visitors and residents on Australia’s Fraser Island on Tuesday were asked to prepare for the worst as an out of control bushfire swept towards a major tourist resort.
The fire has already scorched over 72,000 hectares or 42 per cent of the World Heritage listed island, off Queensland State’s east coast, since spreading from an illegal campfire six weeks ago.
On Tuesday, the first day of summer in Australia brought hot and windy conditions which fanned flames and made firefighters’ efforts to contain the blaze even more difficult.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) said that the fire was travelling towards the Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village with water bombing aircraft attempting to slow the progression.
“You need to be ready to follow your bushfire survival plan,” QFES said in a statement.
“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.”
Weather forecasts predicted adverse conditions to continue throughout the evening, raising concerns for residents and visitors who remained on the island.
“A trough moving into Western Queensland this afternoon and evening will make it very windy, combining with the heatwave to elevate fire dangers,” Queensland’s State Bureau of Meteorology said.
On Monday, a high alert was issued for the states of New South Wales and Queensland for potential bushfires due to extreme heatwave that has hit the region.
Over the weekend, most of Australia was hit by the extreme heatwave with temperatures reaching a high of at least 40 degrees Celsius.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) also warned of continued fire danger in the southern and eastern Australian states as the record-breaking heatwave will continue in the coming days.
Thirty-three people died, including nine firefighters, in the 2019-20 “Black Summer” bushfires, which burned from July 2019 to March 2020.
The smoke blanketed much of Australia, including capital cities, and contributed to hundreds of deaths.
Nearly 3 billion animals were killed or displaced, and the fires harmed many threatened species and ecological communities.