Plumes of smoke show the extent of fires close to the summit of Mount Archer (transmission towers in the foreground) yesterday. Difficult terrain and swirling winds hampered attempts to contain the fire's progress.
Plumes of smoke show the extent of fires close to the summit of Mount Archer (transmission towers in the foreground) yesterday. Difficult terrain and swirling winds hampered attempts to contain the fire's progress. Chris Ison

Strong winds a big fire concern

SEVENTY firefighters battled yesterday to contain bushfires on the western slopes of Mount Archer.

It was, according to senior staff, a thankless task and a losing battle.

“Everything is against us,” Inspector Winston Williams said.

“The wind and the terrain make it virtually impossible.”

The co-ordinator at the Regional Operations Centre set up at Cawarral said a number of forest fires were burning and the undulations, ridges and gulleys of the mountain made it difficult to get at them.

But it was the swirling, gusting winds that were the biggest problem.

About 50 rural volunteers from a number of brigades were supplemented by auxiliary staff from Brisbane, Maryborough and Bundaberg, flown in to give overworked local crews a break.

Water tankers, bulldozers and three aircraft were used as the crews concentrated on containing the progress of the fire.

“All we can do is strengthen containment lines where possible,” Inspector Williams said.

“The fear is that the wind will change direction overnight and blow the fire towards the other side of the mountain.”

If that happens then houses on the eastern fringes of the city - in Norman Gardens, Frenchville and Nerimbera - will be in the firing line.

Superintendent John Fischer praised the response from the community to the effort.

He said scores of employers had allowed volunteers to take time off work and other businesses had donated water and other supplies to keep the crews refreshed.



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