SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: September 9, 2019

SNIP: Queensland’s former fire commissioner says an erratic bushfire front that climbed into the state’s subtropical rainforest and razed the 86-year-old Binna Burra Lodge is “like nothing we’ve ever seen before”.

“What we’re seeing, it’s just not within people’s imagination,” said Lee Johnson, who spent 12 years in charge of Queensland’s fire service.

“They just didn’t believe it could ever get so bad.”

Queensland remains in the grip of one of the worst bushfire threats in its history, fuelled by prolonged dry conditions and fierce gusting winds; an “omen” of a potentially devastating fire season ahead. There are still 52 fires burning across the state. Schools are closed and about 20 structures have been destroyed.

Early on Sunday morning, a fire front climbed into the Lamington national park and razed Binna Burra, a historic eco-tourism lodge built in the 1930s and surrounded by subtropical Gondwana rainforest.

The heritage-listed main lodge was built in 1933. It has never before been seriously threatened by bushfire, protected in part by lush and damp surroundings that typically suppress the progress of dangerous fires.

Last year, Queensland experienced “unprecedented” fire conditions in November – a combination of hot, dry and windy days in tropical and subtropical parts of the state.

A year later, and again conditions are being described in similar terms, the sort that can fuel catastrophic wildfires.