The QFES spokeswoman said Queensland’s large air tanker and 16 smaller water-bombing aircraft were also available if needed on Thursday. This was down from 24 aircraft in action on Monday.

Ground crews and aircraft activity remained focused on the fire grounds near The Oaks, Kingfisher Bay Resort and the Happy Valley township on Thursday.

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The town of Happy Valley was in grave danger on Monday as the flames came within a kilometre of homes, but firefighters and water-bombing aircraft steered the fire away.

An estimated 25 millimetres of rain fell on Fraser Island on Monday afternoon, which “took the sting out” of the fire, according to QFES.

Evacuation warnings had been downgraded by Tuesday morning, but several “prepare to leave” notices remained in place during the day as crews fought to get a grip on the flames.

By Wednesday the evacuation warnings had eased to a “stay informed” level as a cooler south-easterly wind change reached the state’s south-east.

There were fears the wind change could push flames to new ground and create new fire fronts, but there were no indications of this happening on Thursday.

The NSW large air tanker returned home on Tuesday after flying up on Monday morning to help.

Out of the island’s 184,000 hectares, more than 85,000 hectares have been scorched during the past two months.

The Environment Department, which overseas QPWS, said the fire began on October 14 as the result of an illegal and poorly extinguished campfire.

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Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan previously said QFES personnel did not join QPWS and BAC officers in fighting the fire until November 27.

The state government and responsible agencies — who said initial efforts were restricted by difficult terrain and conditions — have been criticised for the delay in escalating measures to halt the blazes.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said on Tuesday he did not believe the fact that the fires began while the government was in caretaker mode had any impact on the response.

“Caretaker doesn’t affect these kinds of operational matters and we continue to manage these responses at a political level as though we were the government throughout the caretaker period,” he said.

“That was certainly how we dealt with COVID matters and I am sure it is certainly how Queensland fire services and the Department of Environment and Science dealt with [the fires].”

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