World

Bush fire forces evacuation of township on Australia's Fraser Island

MELBOURNE: Residents of a coastal township on Australia's World Heritage-listed Fraser Island were told to evacuate yesterday as a bush fire approached.

Since it was sparked by an illegal campfire seven weeks ago, the blaze has blackened half the island off Australia's north-eastern coast, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef.

Residents of Fraser Island's Happy Valley had a small reprieve after the blaze lessened in intensity yesterday afternoon, Queensland state emergency services commissioner Greg Leach told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We now don't anticipate that that fire will run into the Happy Valley settlement today, but we will continue to work hard," Mr Leach said.

"We will continue to have aircraft on the fire from first light tomorrow to try and knock that fire down as best we can."

Officials said that there were more than 90 personnel, 38 vehicles and 17 aircraft working on Fraser Island, including a large air tanker.

Queensland's emergency services urged residents to evacuate late yesterday afternoon.

Baking temperatures across Queensland last week caused peak bush fire conditions, with emergency services currently attending to 48 fires, Mr Leach said. - REUTERS

WORLD