‘Confronting’ scenes of dead livestock, burnt landscapes
THE scale of fire damage to landscapes, displacement of hundreds of residents and new fears for hungry livestock are hitting home for Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen.
As 50 new firefighters were dispatched to fight raging fires at Binna Burra and Beechmont yesterday, Mayor Christensen described scenes of devastation after surveying paddocks and properties that had been engulfed in flames 24 hours earlier in Canungra and Sarabah.
"I can't let myself think about the greater damage just yet," he told the Bulletin from Canungra refuge centre.
Near tears, he said earlier estimates of 4000 hectares of damage have been exceeded, reaching 5000 hectares of compromised area as of 3pm on Monday.
While no one has been killed, huge livestock losses are feared.
"We have stock that have no food for two days because their land was totally burnt out, that will start to really cause problems," Cr Christensen said.
"There are dead livestock which is confronting. There are some tragic stories, we know we are going to discover injured wildlife and significant damage to our trees.
"Some people have lost houses, I can only imagine what they have gone through," he paused, red-eyed and regained his composure.
"To lose everything that describes your life for some people will be impossible to comprehend. I believe the biggest thing we can do is maintain focus in the joy we have.
"That is the best defence we have to the pain and tragedy unfolding."
Since Thursday the region has been battling some of the worst fires many have seen in decades with fire season beginning exceptionally early.
Conditions have since worsened in some areas as with the evacuation of the O'Reilly's Rainforest retreat and the Lamington National Park late yesterday afternoon.
The fires have also put pressure on farmers in the area who are unlikely to see meaningful rain until the end of the year. For many this will mean selling livestock into an already disappointing market.
Some residents have able to return home in Binna Burra and Beechmont but were warned to remain vigilant as conditions remains volatile.
In one bright spot, residents rescued via helicopter from a home at Tabletop in Friday were told their home - believed to been destroyed - had actually been saved.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissior Kevin Walsh said air drops continued throughout the day as the wind picked up at noon.
"We are being well supported by all our emergency services."
Last night about 100 people were safely sheltering at the O'Reilly Guest House following an earlier warning to leave the area due to a bush fire impacting on road access.
The group included police, guests and staff who unable to leave by road.
Authorities remain in contact with the group and are confident they are in no immediate danger.
Plans were being enacted to ensure the group can leave as soon as it is safe.
Acting Premier Jackie Trad and Opposition leader Deb Frecklington both visited the area to thank volunteers.
Ms Frecklington said: "Small Queensland communities always band together at times like, the best of Queensland that comes out.
"At least 15 families from this area are without a home but those who have lost everything that I have just met say they have still got the most important thing - each other."
"Our thoughts are with those that are still displaced or have lost properties.
"It's so heartwarming that people that are under threat themselves are volunteering and giving their time.
"The community will be healing for a long time yet."