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Police search for illegal campers to determine cause of fire

Division commander inspector Paul Durston looks over a map of Bribie. Photo Vicki Wood / Caboolture News
Division commander inspector Paul Durston looks over a map of Bribie. Photo Vicki Wood / Caboolture News Vicki Wood

UPDATE Monday: THE bushfires that raged in Bribie Island bushland near White Patch last week are believed to have been started by an illegal campfire, which then spread to the forest.

Bribie Island Police Station officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant David Crawford-Raby is looking for information from the public about a campsite, including a cubby house or fort, in the block directly north of the Pacific Harbour golf course.

"There was a campfire lit there and that fire or other fires lit in the vicinity of the site are believed to be responsible," he said.

HQ Plantations manages all four forestry plantations on the island and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of trees.

General manager of operations Steve Worley estimated "a couple of thousand" hectares had been burnt in total, including "a couple of hundred" hectares of plantation land.

A water bomber was called to control a small flare-up on Sunday but control of the fire has been handed over to HQ Plantations.

Small pockets of fire were burning on the island's western side on Monday but Mr Worley said it was under control.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Division commander inspector Paul Durston said despite the large area, no structures were damaged, not even a fence.

People with respiratory conditions are still advised to stay indoors, with windows closed and keep their medication close by as long as the fires burn.

What remained of the fire was under control on Monday morning and no QFRS crews were on scene.

The cause of the fire is under further investigation.

 

Check out our live blog of events earlier in the week here.

See Insp Durston explain the QFRS plan of attack here.

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THE fire threat to homes on Bribie Island has eased but residents on the mainland have been urged to be on high alert for floating embers.

Fire crews will work this afternoon and into the night to force the huge blaze to burn west towards Pumicestone Passage and relative safety.

But with a wind change expected tomorrow, concerns have shifted to ensuring the blaze doesn't spread over the passage to the coastal suburbs of Toorbul, Donnybrook and Sandstone Point.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service division commander Inspector Paul Durston said there was a chance floating embers could cause spot fires as far as 1.5km inland.

"The area of concern is the smoke plume that is travelling across this passage to the mainland," he said.

"We have fire crews in those areas, if anybody has any concerns, dial 000 and we will respond accordingly.

"We're patrolling at the moment to ensure that any of that type of material that is carried across the passage, if they are embers that we jump on them quickly."

The smoke itself has also become a concern as it spreads inland, cutting visibility on roads and posing health risks.

A Department of Community Services spokesman advised people with respiratory conditions to stay indoors, keep windows closed and keep their medication close by.

Assistant Police Minister Steve Dickson made the trip to Bribie to see the devastation first hand.

He praised the work of the dozens of volunteer firefighters who worked tirelessly to protect homes.

"We've got some extremely dedicated people who work for fire and emergency services out here today doing an outstanding job," he said.

"These jackets are extremely hot to work in; the weather is extremely hot and remember these people are looking after all Queenslanders."

He urged people to do "whatever it takes" to stop the spot fires reigniting on the mainland.

"We are all there in this thing together and we just want to make sure that it doesn't spread," he said.

The cause of the fire is still unknown but it is believed to have started in the Welsby swamp area, just north of the Pacific Harbour Golf and Country Club course.


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