Fireys prepare for worst as Qld towns hit 40C
QUEENSLAND firefighters are bracing for dangerous conditions on Tuesday, with crews already battling more than 20 blazes across the state.
The state is expected to record some of the highest October temperatures in decades, with the mercury set to reach 40C in some areas today.
More than 50 crews were fighting fires yesterday, including two large blazes threatening homes at Mount Morgan, near Rockhampton, and Glen Rock State Forest, south of Gatton, where residents were warned to prepare to leave.
Large swathes of the state have been placed on fire bans, with more than 20 shires stretching from the Southern Downs in the south up to Livingstone in the north banned from lighting fires.
And conditions are expected to worsen today, with firefighters warning the risk is "severe" as the mercury threatens to topple previous October records in some areas.
Crews battling the Mount Morgan fire battled through sweltering conditions yesterday where temperatures his 37C.
Bureau of Meteorology forecasters expect the mercury to rise to 39C today in the area, making it one of the hottest days in the region since 1958.
Gatton was Queensland's hottest town on Monday, hitting a near-record 40C.
There is no relief in sight for the Lockyer Valley, with another 40C day expected in Gatton.
That maximum temperature are also expected in Ipswich, Laidley, Esk, Gayndah, Blackwater, Julia Creek and Doomadgee.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services assistant commissioner Neil Gallant said crews were ready and urged the public to be prepared for the rest of the fire season.
"We are keen to hit any fire that starts very hard, very early," he said.
"The vegetation is very, very dry, so any fire that starts is going to run very hard.
"Any fire that starts is going to cause a lot of problems."
Firefighters are also urging people to beware of sparking fires, with temperatures to remain high in the southeast until at least tomorrow.
"We only get one chance to get them while they are small, so we will be throwing the crews and water-bombing aircraft at those as quickly as we can," Mr Gallant said.
Firefighters were yesterday ferociously battling several big blazes in hot and windy conditions. Rural Fire Service acting director Wayne Waltisbuhl said one of the fires of most concern was at Glen Rock State Forest, south of Gatton in the Lockyer Valley.
The fire started a week ago from a lightning strike and has now emerged out of the national park and into grazing land.
People nearby were warned to prepare to leave as the fire was burning towards properties along Cole Gully Rd.
Further north, prepare to leave advice was also issued for residents of Mount Morgan, Struck Oil, Leydens Hill and Baree.
Mount Morgan resident Matt Dylan could only watch in awe as firefighters waterbombed walls of flame from helicopters and small planes.
"The fires were just over the hill from my place," he said. "A big wall of fire over the hills, 15-20 feet high.
"Where it hooks in to some parts of the country it feeds straight up the trees."
Mr Dylan said that the fires were "terrifying to see". "You've got a year's supply of leaves, mulch that sits on the ground, it's just fuel," he said. "People's lives are at stake. Even though our firies know what they're doing, the danger factor is just so high."
An 18-year-old rural firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation after battling the out-of-control fire south of Rockhampton.
The heightened risk comes just weeks after 17 homes were destroyed by infernos that tore thorough parts of the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Granite Belt regions.