Firefighters in Queensland are warning a large bushfire “may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path” as it burns towards the Fraser Island town of Happy Valley.
Residents were on Monday morning being urged to leave immediately as a bushfire coming at them “with a vengeance” would make it too dangerous to drive out.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services were also warning residents and visitors in the Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village to prepare to leave if it was safe to do so on Monday morning.
Firefighters have been backburning to reduce the impact of the blaze, which is bearing down on Happy Valley from the north-west.
“Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing,” QFES said in an alert on Monday morning.
“The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path. Fire crews may not be able to protect your property. You should not expect a firefighter at your door: act now.
“Power, water, and mobile phone service may be lost and road conditions may become very dangerous over the next several hours.”
However, some residents were staying behind to defend their homes against the encroaching fire.
Elspeth Murray from the Happy Valley Community Association said overnight humidity and a drop in the wind had hindered the fire front, but 30km/h winds were expected on Monday.
“It will be coming at us with a vengeance,” she told Nine’s Today program.
Murray was staying to defend her home in Happy Valley, and said locals have been preparing for severe bushfires for 18 months.
She said the community had worked on hazard reduction and built fire breaks under the direction of a resident who is a former Rural Fire Service inspector with 30 years experience.
Murray said 10 people had left voluntarily on Sunday, but about 50 people were staying, with the safety of the beach only 200m away if conditions deteriorated.
“So no one is being stupid, we know what we are doing,” she said.
“We have been well-schooled in what often will burn down towns like ours – it’s not the flames coming straight at us, but the ember attacks that happen and light up unattended property. So every home has been well and truly cleaned of leaf matter.
“Our garden is looking a lot greener than it should at this time of year only because we have been watering it solidly for the last three weeks to ensure that we don’t have dry grass around. Neighbours have looked after neighbours here.”
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service large 737 air tanker, the Marie Bashir, was also flying to Queensland to help with water-bombing efforts.
The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, described the situation on the island as very serious.
“You only have to look at the horrendous temperatures that we’re experiencing over there, I commend all of the firefighters for the work that they’re doing, and it is a serious situation,” she added.
The federal emergency management minister, David Littleproud, said the state had all the resources it needed to fight the fire.
He said the blaze was harder to beat because firefighters needed to use more water to dampen the sandy soil on the island.
The fire on the world heritage-listed Fraser Island, also known as K’gari, has been burning since mid-October.