Heavy rain has helped firefighters gain the upper hand against a bushfire that’s destroyed almost half of world heritage-listed Fraser Island.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services says the blaze is now contained and it is handing management back to the Parks and Wildlife Service.
“But our crews will remain on the ground patrolling to ensure the community remain safe,” a spokesman said via Facebook on December 13.
The fire destroyed more than 85,000 hectares of vegetation since it was sparked by an illegal campfire on October 14.
Water bombers dumped almost three million litres of water and fire-retardant gel on the blaze during the nine-week battle.
But loose soil on the world’s largest sand island caused the liquid to drain away quickly in the inaccessible, bush-covered dunes where the fire burned on multiple fronts.
One front was near the Kingfisher Bay Resort on the west side of the island, which forced guests and staff to leave.
On the eastern side of the island, the fire came dangerously close to properties in Happy Valley and Cathedrals but was beaten back.
QFES took over management of the fire from the national park’s ranger service early in December.
It immediately ordered tourists to stay away from the island, closing access to all people except residents and essential workers.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has ordered a review of the Department of Environment and QFES emergency response to the blaze.
Fraser Island is about 250km north of Brisbane and covers more than 180,000 hectares.
Aaron Bunch in Brisbane