Firefighters fight in tough conditions at Black Snake on Sunday as bushfire burns in rugged country.
Firefighters fight in tough conditions at Black Snake on Sunday as bushfire burns in rugged country.

Family flees as fireys battle rugged Black Snake country

AT LEAST one family has evacuated Black Snake Mountain as local volunteers and fireys continue the battle to protect about 20 homes nestled among the thick and inaccessible eucalypt bushland about 18km west of Gympie.

The other 19 families are reportedly still in their homes in the Jackson Road, Webb Road and Upper Thornside Road areas, while the fire which has already burnt out a huge tract of bushland and is moving in a south-easterly direction towards the Widgee township, which is overlooked by a section of the Black Snake Range.

Firefighters fight in tough conditions at Black Snake on Sunday as bushfire burns in rugged country.
Firefighters fight in tough conditions at Black Snake on Sunday as bushfire burns in rugged country.

Seventeen crews are on the ground, a Widgee Rural Fire Brigade spokeswoman said, and at 11am the fire was thought to be burning in containment lines, with a perimeter of about 20kms.

 

Veteran Rural Fire Brigade officers Shaun Williams and Michael Bird man tanks used to fill water bombers at Gympie Airport.
Veteran Rural Fire Brigade officers Shaun Williams and Michael Bird man tanks used to fill water bombers at Gympie Airport.

Widgee Rural Fire Brigade warden George Cotter said the biggest hurdle of the fire, part of which had crept over the Widgee side of the range, was inaccessibility.

"It's really difficult to combat a fire in such rugged country," he said.

QFES Acting Area Director Ross Stacey, in charge of the air attack on the fire, has seen from the air the extreme terrain firefighters are battling at Black Snake.

Thick timbered, country covers the steep ridge of the range, that connects to farmland, he said.

He said the dense bushland meant there were limited options in establishing and maintaining containment lines.

Becker Helicopters pilot Fergus Ponder and QFES Acting Area Director Ross Stacey get ready to leave Gympie Airport, where water bombers are filling up to
Becker Helicopters pilot Fergus Ponder and QFES Acting Area Director Ross Stacey get ready to leave Gympie Airport, where water bombers are filling up to "air attack" the bushfire at Black Snake.

"The crews are working in extremely difficult conditions. There is not a lot of water and it's smoky and dusty."

The focus this morning was watching fire breaks, with the deployment of five water bombers working out of Gympie Airport.

"The wind can be very erratic, we are seeing a lot of things behaving differently to usual," he said. 

Some areas that have never burnt in living memory, he said.

Local residents report "panic and mayhem" in Kilkivan over the weekend when a general Watch and Act/ Prepare to Leave alert was issued for Black Snake Road, which many Kilkivan residents live along.

But the fire was contained to a smaller area of Black Snake Road.