Yesterday all eyes were on New South Wales but today the focus shifts further north, where Queensland’s firefighters are continuing their marathon effort and anticipating their worst day yet.
- Queensland’s firefighters are most concerned about the Darling Downs, Scenic Rim and Granite Belt regions
- New South Wales is no longer facing catastrophic fire conditions but a total fire ban remains in place
- Hot, dry and windy conditions are expected to return to both states by the weekend
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) will face extremely tough conditions, with searing heat and a shift in wind direction set to test containment lines throughout the state.
At 5:00am AEST, there were 10 fires burning in Queensland with a ‘watch and act’ warning in place.
But firefighters say their biggest concern is “the fires that are yet to start” at any time and without notice.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said gusty, northerly winds over Queensland’s south-east parts swung to south-westerlies overnight, and were recorded at up to 40kph, widening fire fronts.
BOM’s Victoria Dodds said Wednesday would bring “quite challenging conditions” for firefighters and there was no significant rain on the horizon.
“We’ve also got severe fire dangers in southern parts of the state … particularly the bone-dry Darling Downs, the Granite Belt, as well as the south-east coast,” she said.
Temperatures near some of the worst fire zones are tipped to be six to eight degrees above average.
Fire authorities believe there is a high fire risk in the Scenic Rim and are keeping a close eye on Sarabah — which bore much of the brunt of the September fires.
Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen has warned Wednesday has the potential to be the “blackest day since Binna Burra”, when the heritage-listed lodge in the Gold Coast hinterland was destroyed by fire.
“With the weather conditions that are facing us over the next 24 to 48 hours, this will be a significantly challenging new space to be managing,” Cr Christensen said.
Those concerns in the Scenic Rim have prompted the evacuation of the low-security Palen Creek Correctional Centre, located in the Mount Barney National Park near the Queensland-New South Wales border.
Queensland Corrective Services said 133 low security prisoners and officers at the centre were transferred to the Borallon Training and Correctional Centre near Ipswich last night.
Extra resources have been brought in, including 110 firefighters from new Zealand, Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, and 40 water-bombing aircraft.
On the Sunshine Coast firefighters are also expecting conditions to deteriorate but have allocated an extra 20 firefighters from New Zealand to Caloundra and Gympie.
Concerns don’t stop at the border
Severe conditions still remain in New South Wales after a tough night for firefighters hampered by high-speed winds of up to 90kph.
Almost 600 schools closed yesterday amid catastrophic conditions in New South Wales, where there were 14 emergency warnings at the peak late in the afternoon.
For more emergency information listen to:
- ABC Mid North Coast Port Macquarie Taree (Taree MF) 756 AM or via live stream
- ABC Mid North Coast Port Macquarie Kempsey (Smithton MF) 684AM or via live stream
- ABC New England North West Glen Innes (Glen Innes MF) 819 AM or via live stream
- ABC North Coast Grafton (Lawrence MF) 738 AM or via live stream
- ABC Sydney 702 AM or via live stream
Rural Fire Service NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there was no indication there would be catastrophic conditions today, but the state-wide fire ban would remain in place.
“I don’t have anything in the signal to suggest catastrophic at this stage, but severe and above is likely,” he said.
“We do need to be mindful that we’re expecting a return to hot and dry and windy conditions again towards the end of this week. Certainly as we head to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we can expect to see elevated fire dangers again.”
But overnight there was little reprieve for NSW firefighters where winds also hampered firefighting efforts in the Greater Hunter region before reaching Port Macquarie.
Sydney was also dragged into the state-wide emergency when two warnings were issued in a leafy suburb on the city’s North Shore.
Beijing-quality air returns
With the change in winds across the east coast, residents of south-east Queensland will on Wednesday awake again to a blanket of thick smoke over the city brought from the NSW fires.
Claire Richardson, the principal consultant with Air Noise Environment, said air pollution would be well above the recommended health exposure levels in the Greater Brisbane and Gold Coast region.
“That may cause some issues for people with compromised health, such as asthmatics, and it will be the case that even people that are in normal good health may start to see some symptoms from exposure,” she said.
Dr Richardson said weather conditions were compounding the contamination in the air from the bushfires.
“We traditionally do see increases in pollution concentrations when we have bushfires in Queensland and other states, that’s a known phenomena,” Dr Richardson said.
“But we have weather conditions that are causing that pollution to re-circulate and to stay in place for more extended periods, and to build up in locations where the topography enhances the collection of pollution and traps it over periods of time.”
Dr Richardson said Brisbane’s air pollution on Monday was worse than in Beijing — a city known for its very poor air quality owing to vehicles and industrial emissions.
She predicted Wednesday’s conditions would return to those sorts of levels, ahead of a brief reprieve.
“Moving into Thursday again we’ll have a change and we may find conditions are alleviated,” she said.
“But the current air quality forecast for Friday and through to the weekend is actually very poor and that is actually going to potentially cause health issues for many people.”
More on the bushfire emergency:
- As NSW’s fires raged around them, this town’s residents huddled in one house
- Weather forecast fuels NSW fire fears, authorities warn Sydney could be at risk
- Queensland fires see State of Emergency declared across 42 areas as residents wait to return home
- NSW fires claim life of Wytaliba woman Vivian Chaplain as family pays tribute
- Fires in NSW partly caused by delayed monsoons in India, experts say
- ‘It’s well and truly gone’: Crushed Queenslanders return to wreckage of their homes
- Queensland famer’s ‘devastation’ at stolen hay bales takes a backseat as fires rage
Topics: bushfire, emergency-planning, weather, disasters-and-accidents, brisbane-4000, bundaberg-4670, cairns-4870, longreach-4730, southport-4215, mackay-4740, mount-isa-4825, rockhampton-4700, maroochydore-4558, toowoomba-4350, townsville-4810
- New South Wales Luxury Holidays
- Sydney, New South Wales.
- Worker dies at steel plant in south Wales
- South Wales Police need help naming their adorable new recruits
- Transport for Wales trains in south Wales descend into chaos
- South Wales Police need help naming five-week-old puppies
- South Wales Echo letters: Friday, October 4, 2019
- South Wales Echo letters: Monday, September 23, 2019
- South Wales Echo letters: Wednesday, October 2, 2019
- Cinderella returns to south Wales theatres this Christmas