“The leaves from the fire – they were black but they weren’t embers – they gathered on the lawn and it’s a big tidy-up today,” Ms Porter said. “We’re cleaning up the ash and everything.”
She remained hopeful the ban on new visitors to the island would be lifted next week to allow a return of tourists before the busy summer holiday period after a tough year with COVID-19.
“We’ve just got to hold out,” she said.
Several fire fronts remain, including one near Kingfisher Bay Resort, with an estimated 85,000 hectares of the island’s total 184,000 hectares now burned.
A total of 90 personnel from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation, 34 vehicles and 24 water-bombers were involved in Monday’s efforts across the island.
Speaking to Today, QFES state co-ordinator Brian Cox said the combination of firefighters on the ground, preparation work near the fire fronts and vast numbers of water-bombing aircraft allowed them to contain and “steer” the fire around the third major blaze near Happy Valley.
The fire was last reported within hundreds of metres from The Oaks, about a kilometre south. “Very limited” fire activity remained as of 6.30pm Tuesday, with water bombing also limiting the spread of the Kingfisher Bay blaze.
Mr Cox said the impact of the line of storms that passed over the island overnight was still being assessed.
Despite the rain overnight, fire authorities have said more significant falls — not expected any time soon by the Bureau of Meteorology — would be needed.
On the mainland further south, the storms damaged homes and boats and cut power to more than 25,000 buildings, with more than 100 millimetres at some locations on the Sunshine Coast.
Bureau meteorologist Pieter Claassen said the focus of these would shift north to the Capricornia, Central and Fraser coasts on Tuesday. A “fresh” south-easterly change would also turn and increase winds over the island from about midnight.
“Cooler temperatures should persist, with most of the state several degrees below average by the weekend,” he added.
Criticism has been levelled at the government and responsible agencies — who have said initial efforts were restricted by difficult terrain and conditions — for the delay in escalating measures to halt the blazes burning since October 14.
When asked on Tuesday, Deputy Premier Steven Miles 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].”
Matt Dennien is a reporter with Brisbane Times.