Qld fire risk at its highest in generations, says chief
QUEENSLANDERS are being warned to brace for some of the most extreme fire conditions in generations over the next two days, as temperatures soar and winds ramp up.
Extreme fire warnings have been issued for Maranoa, Warrego, Darling Downs and Granite Belt districts, while a severe fire risk is forecast in Central Highlands, Coalfields, Wide Bay, Burnett and Southeast Coast areas.
Regional fire chief Alan Gillespie yesterday warned southeast Queensland was facing one of the most serious bushfire threats in generations, while helicopter bombers and planes were on standby at Toowoomba to deal with potentially catastrophic conditions on the Granite Belt.
Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Peter Otto said it would be the most severe fire danger for September the state had seen in at least six years.
"Isolated areas of the Darling Downs and Granite Belt regions could reach catastrophic fire danger," he said.
If issued, it will be the second time catastrophic fire conditions have been declared within the state - the first was last year during devastating bushfires in central Queensland.
The combination of hot, dry and windy conditions will make bushfires difficult to fight.
"Over the southern districts of the state there will be hot and dry winds," Mr Otto said. "They'll be of the order of 35-40km/h at times over the southern interior, even getting towards the southeast coast.
"It will be hard to control fires tomorrow over large parts of southern and even central Queensland."
It comes as residents in Sarabah and Biboohra were warned to prepare to evacuate yesterday afternoon.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services advise that conditions in these areas could get worse.
"This is the first time this bushfire season where we will experience conditions like this, and our highly trained and skilled firefighters are ready to respond if required," QFES Acting Commissioner Mike Wassing said.
"We also have several waterbombing aircraft on standby, ready to respond from Toowoomba, Boonah, Bundaberg and Giru."
Fire bans are in place for Toowoomba, southern and western Darling Downs, Goondiwindi, Maranoa and Balonne Shire until midnight tonight.
Toowoomba's Downs Hotel manager Jade Hose said she had a lot of customers who lived in the bush.
"I don't think a bushfire would get to us but if it did it would be daunting," she said.
Brisbane is expected to hit a top of 34C, with predicted maximums of 36C for Ipswich and 35C for Gatton.
Mr Gillespie said extremely dangerous conditions were expected in Ipswich's rural areas.
"What we are facing here is one of the most serious bushfire threats in southeast Queensland in generations," he said.
Firefighters are urging any residents in country areas to prepare early with survival plans and firefighting equipment on hand.
"We can't guarantee we will have a truck at every fire," Mr Gillespie said.
"Rural firefighting is a partnership between the Rural Fire Service and communities."