Brace yourselves: Fires set to get even worse

RESIDENTS and guests have been ordered to leave now as an out-of-control bushfire threatens a luxury southeast Queensland resort.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has advised there is a bushfire near Spicers Peak Lodge and conditions are getting worse.

At 3.40am, the bushfire was burning near Spicers Gap and travelling in a south-westerly direction from Spicers Gap towards Spicers Peak Lodge.

The fire is likely to have an impact on Spicers Peak Lodge

A QFES spokeswoman said that no guests were at the lodge when police and firefighters door knocked to evacuate in the early hours of the morning.

Four firefighting crews and one caretaker remain on scene battle the blaze.

There is a separate warning for Mount Alphen and Double Top.

Emergency services have urged residents in those areas to refer to that warning to determine what action they should take.

It comes as Queensland braces for its most extreme fire ­conditions yet with high temperatures and "complicated" strong winds expected to cause havoc on the state's ­fatigued crews.

FULL LIST OF BUSHFIRE ALERTS AND EVACUATIONS

Temperatures are set to reach up to 36C in the southeast today and the Bureau of Meteorology has warned a wind change from northerly to south-westerley, coupled with a south-easterley surge moving through the south coast, will hamper conditions on the ground.

The wind change is expected to bring a smoke haze in the south-east today.

Temperatures in some areas will also be up to 8C higher than average and strong winds and dry conditions are forecast, with no significant rainfall expected.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state was being plagued by "severe conditions" that did not help crews battling fires from the Gold Coast to Cape York.

She said there would be ­severe conditions today in the Darling Downs, Granite Belt and southeast coast. Twelve homes have been lost and at least 100,000ha of land burned in Queensland's fires. Yesterday, more than 1000 personnel were on the ground fighting 55 fires across the state, with 40 aircraft assisting.

 

 

Residents were on high alert, with "prepare to leave" warnings at Tarome, Palen Creek, Rosevale, Clumber and Moogerah.

With fires approaching Palen Creek prison farm, near the Queensland/NSW border, 133 prisoners were evacuated and moved to Borallon jail.

The bushfire crisis also continues in NSW, where last night 85 fires were burning, including 12 at emergency level with one million hectares of the state burnt, three people dead and 150 homes lost since the weekend.

 

 

More than 3000 firefighters across NSW were hailed as heroes as they followed a carefully crafted plan to contain and battle fires in catastrophic fire conditions of high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds.

Queensland is bracing for more fires as high temperatures and strong winds present challenging conditions for firefighters. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Queensland is bracing for more fires as high temperatures and strong winds present challenging conditions for firefighters. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

But the state had been urged to "remain vigilant" into the early hours of this morning when the southerly wind change was expected to hit the fire grounds of northern NSW.

It comes as the man seen being comforted by Scott Morrison in a heartbreaking photo earlier this week was dealt another blow after being evacuated from his home for a second time.

On Sunday, the PM visited victims at the Club Taree Evacuation Centre in Taree where he met 85-year-old Owen Whalan who broke down in tears after being evacuated from his Koorainghat property.

Yesterday, Mr Whalan and his wife Catherine returned to their home to find it had survived the fires, however, not long after arriving back home he was forced to leave again as the fires flared back up. Queensland's State disaster co-ordinator and Queensland Police Service deputy commissioner Steve Gollschewski said some of the fires were being treated as suspicious.

 

 

He said crews were in a good place and urged residents to continue to listen to emergency services.

Acting Fire Commissioner Mike Wassing said a "long haul" effort was ahead for firefighters. "This is a marathon for us with sprints in between and we are managing the fatigue of our people," he said.

BOM meteorologist Dean Narramore said smoke haze that blanketed Brisbane and the Gold Coast on Monday was likely again today and was due to bushfires in northern NSW and the Scenic Rim.

"We're going to have a south-westerly wind change go through in the morning hours (today) and that's going to lead to those severe fire dangers and erratic fire behaviour, but on the coastal locations we're going to have a south-easterly change moving up as well and there's likely to be smoke from bushfire in NSW trapped in those winds," Mr Narramore said.

"The smoke is likely to blanket most of the south-east. If a number of fires in NSW get going or get out of control there could be a lot more smoke and it also depends on how that smoke down there acts as the wind changes."

Work was halted on Brisbane's Queen's Wharf project yesterday due to Brisbane's poor air quality.

The decision was made after advice from Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, who warned of the risks of working outside for long periods.

 

 

Dr Young described air quality in the south-east on Monday as "unprecedented".

She said the smoke haze was expected to return today with worsening air quality and advised vulnerable people such as asthmatics and the elderly to minimise time outside.

A state of emergency has been declared across 42 local council areas.

The Australian Defence Force has been assisting crews by transporting firefighters and bringing in bulldozers to conduct fire breaks.

To help fatigued crews, an additional 110 firefighters are coming from New Zealand, Victoria, Tasmania and Northern Territory.


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