Aerial Armada Slows Fraser Island Bushfire

Aerial Armada Slows Fraser Island Bushfire
K'gari, formerly known as Fraser Island, November 30, 2020. (Queensland Fire and Emergency Services)

More than a dozen firefighting aircraft have significantly slowed a bushfire that’s destroyed almost half of Queensland’s world heritage-listed Fraser Island.

Water bombers are winning the battle against a seven-week-old bushfire that’s blackened almost half of world heritage-listed Fraser Island.

More than a dozen firefighting aircraft, including the state’s large aerial tanker, have all but stopped the fire’s advance, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services says.

They’ve dumped almost three million litres of water and fire-retardant gel on the fire, which has destroyed 82,500 hectares of the national park since being sparked by an illegal campfire.

“Additional resourcing of ground crews and air support—allowing for a greater weight of attack—has meant that the fire’s rate of spread has slowed significantly in the last 48 hours,” a spokeswoman said.

QFES said the LAT had been used 19 times since the blaze started on October 14, with four drops on Friday.

“Decisions relating to the use of the LAT are based on operational needs at the time,” the spokeswoman said after the opposition slammed the limited use of the jet, which can carry 15,000 litres of liquid.

The fire continues to burn on multiple fronts on the east and west sides of the island.

One blaze is 2km east of the popular Kingfisher Bay Resort and headed south, with guests evacuated on Monday, and most staff on Wednesday.

On the eastern side of the island, the fire is burning on two fronts near the Happy Valley community and Cathedrals campsite.

About 100 specialists firefighters are on the ground.

They are being supported by fixed-wing bombers, heli-attack bombers, air attack platforms, an air observation platform, the large aerial tanker and an LAT lead plane.

A “watch and act” alert remains in place, with authorities warning conditions are likely to deteriorate over the weekend.

Fraser Island is about 250km north of Brisbane, 123km long and covers 181,851 hectares.

Aaron Bunch
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