'Peace And Tranquillity Torn Apart': Heartbreak As 17 Homes Destroyed In Queensland Fires
The mayor of one of the worst affected areas in the Queensland fires has fought back tears as he updated the public on "the tragedy unfolding".
Mayor of Canungra Greg Christensen said he is heartbroken to see his beloved community destroyed by fire after years of hardship at the hands of severe drought.
"This is the most beautiful part of Queensland, and I believe of Australia, and to see that beauty destroyed in the way it has been is pretty tough," Christensen said as tears rose to his eyes.
"And for the people who have come here to live, because it is the best place on earth, to see their peace and tranquillity torn apart like this is quite confronting."
At least 17 homes have been destroyed as 51 fires ravage parts of rural Queensland.
"... that is going to cause some challenges for a number of families as we move over the next few days to come to grips with that circumstance and for them to now manage how they move on with their life," Christensen said.
Thankfully, no one has been reported injured or dead in the fires.
Earlier on Saturday morning, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk addressed residents in the town of Applethorpe and confirmed that the area is the greatest concern. Hawkwood was also named as an area of specific concern and residents of both towns have been urged to listen to the messages of emergency crews.
Areas of concern also remain over the Sarabah fire and the five blazes burning in the Stanthorpe/Applethorpe region.
Palaszczuk also gave a special warning to people with chronic health conditions, including Asthma.
"We do have a lot of dust and haze and everything right across the south-east at the moment," Palaszczuk said.
"I am concerned about people's health. If you are asthmatic ... if you do not need to go outside, do not go outside, because there is a lot of dust and everything that is actually being picked up right across the south-east."
The combination of the high temperatures and the intense wind gusts have made extinguishing the fires incredibly difficult for the hundreds of emergency personnel on the ground.
Acting Commissioner Mike Watson confirmed the extensive damage the fires have caused, including the loss of 17 homes. He said while the temperatures have started to drop, winds still remain strong and destructive.
"What we are seeing is continued dry air mass, very dry conditions locally, that we see these fires continuing to be difficult to contain, and any new fires will have lots of resources to make sure that we stomp on those fires very quickly," he said on Saturday.
Temperatures were 10 degrees above average in most of the affected locations according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Winds reached a massive 83 km/h at their worst.
Fire dangers were also slightly reduced on Saturday as temperatures started to drop. Relative humidity still stands at 20 percent and could get up to 40 percent.
One of the key hindering factors is the dust that has been picked up by the wind and traversed across the state. This has reduced visibility to just 2400 meters.
On Sunday the cool, dry temperatures and winds are expected to continue and these conditions are expected to last until at least Tuesday.
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