Ferocious Sunshine Coast Bushfire May Have Been Deliberately Lit
Police are speaking with a group of teenagers about a fire that has destroyed at least two homes on the Sunshine Coast.
The fast-moving blaze started in bushland in Peregian Springs on Monday afternoon and raced towards beachside communities, prompting an emergency evacuation of hundreds of residents that night.
At least two homes and a shed in the Peregian Beach area, south of Noosa, have been destroyed, though there are fears more properties may have been lost.
Queensland Police on Tuesday morning announced detectives were speaking with a number of teenagers as they investigate the cause of the blaze.
Three teenage boys attracted the attention of Police after they admitted to lighting the Peregian fire on a local internet chat room.
The Peregian Beach Surf and Lifesaving Club said on Facebook it was sent a screenshot of the message.
"We have been advised that the same screenshots with the boy's names clearly identified are now in the hands of local police," the surf club wrote.
It comes as two young boys were charged over lighting a fire on the Gold Coast on Monday.
Authorities say the fire danger across Queensland remains high, with at least 67 fires burning across the state.
Firefighters in NSW are also battling 'nightmare' blazes, with fears a southerly change could push at least one of three major blazes onto homes on the state's north coast.
A watch-and-act alert is in place for the Peregian Beach bushfire, as it moves in a north westerly direction towards Marcus Beach. Though, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) is warning conditions are worsening.
Residents are being urged to follow their bushfire survival plan.
"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," the QFES said.
Prepare to leave warnings at also in place for residents north of the fire front, including at Weyba, Weyba Downs, Peregian Springs and Castaways Beach.
The other major concern on Tuesday is a fire that has destroyed homes and the heritage-listed eco-lodge in the Gold Coast hinterland. It remains out of control.
Speaking about the bushfire emergency on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison paid tribute to emergency services personnel, volunteers and residents who have worked together in the face of ongoing threat.
"Once again we've seen on display the great character and care of Australians when they're facing these sorts of disasters," he told reporters.
"I want to thank everybody, all the volunteers ... supporting the firefighters, and indeed the firefighters themselves, they're true national heroes."
He said emergency payments for fire victims in Queensland and NSW are now available.
Featured image: Brendan West