Fire rages while community rallies

Fire threatens houses at Peregian Breeze.

By Margaret Maccoll

Offers of assistance flooded in for hundreds of residents and tourists who were evacuated when fire took hold of Peregian Beach on Monday night with evacuation centres set up at The J Theatre, Noosa Junction and the Leisure Centre, Noosaville.About 350 people registered at The J Theater evacuation centre, many with their dogs and cats and whatever possessions they could gather together.The fire began in bushland near Coles shopping centre at Peregian Springs about 4.30pm on Monday and fueled by strong north-easterly winds quickly ripped through bushland toward Peregian Beach, jumping Emu Mountain Road toward Peregian Breeze.

By 5.30pm police were evacuating residents at the southern end of Peregian Beach after the fire jumped across the David Low Way.

About 6.30pm Peregian Village diners were told by police to “get out now” as the fire progressed north.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) and rural fire units rushed to battle the out of control blaze. About 90 fire units worked through the night and helicopter water bombers began at 6am Tuesday morning collecting water from Peregian Springs golf course to extinguish the fire.

Alerts were sent out to mobile phones across Peregian, Marcus, Sunrise and Weyba Downs beach areas and police walked door to door, street to street to ensure everyone in the area was evacuated.

A police spokeswoman said earlier reports 10 houses had been destroyed were incorrect, with one house confirmed destroyed at Peregian Beach and another damaged and no injuries reported. She said when winds dropped about 2-3am firefighters managed to gain control.On Tuesday morning winds whipped up again, changing to a north-easterly direction and residents of Peregian Breeze were told to evacuate.

At The J evacuees slept on mattresses on the floor or some in their cars while Noosa Council staff and Red Cross workers assisted throughout the night, providing information as it came to hand as well as warm drinks and food.

Noosa MP Sandy Bolton was on hand to offer support and field calls from people offering accommodation to some of those evacuated.

Councillor Jess Glasgow said it was good to see the community spirit.

“We’ve all got each others backs,” he said.

A Council spokeswoman said Tewantin Noosa RSL had supplied food Monday night to everyone at the evacuation centre and Noosa Lions provided breakfast.

Woolworths and Coles offered food and other supplies while fruit shops across the region dropped in donations.

RSPCA manager Nic Cleary dropped by the centre to offer shelter to animals. She said the unused Maroochydore shelter would be made available to take pets.

However she held concerns the fire may change direction and threaten the Noosa shelter which was cause them to evacuate their animals.

Peregian Beach residents Ian and Paula slept the night at the J with their two dogs. Ian said when they were told to evacuate he thought “what do you pack”.

“You do silly things like packing a bag of undies,” he said. “Paula said get the passports. I thought that’s a good idea.”

Tourists Peter Tuohy and Judy Read were on holiday from Melbourne when they were evacuated from Peregian Beach.

They were full of praise for the kindness provided to them at The J. “We had a mattress each on the floors,” Judy said. “It was our one night in Noosa.”

“Red Cross is to be commended,” Peter said.

 A Queensland Police Service spokesman on Tuesday morning said police were speaking to a number of teenagers about the fire but no charges had been laid and investigations were continuing.


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