Queensland swelters in unseasonable temperatures; extreme fire warnings stretch across state

ABC By Chrissy Arthur, Elise Worthington, Jo Skinner and staff – October 7, 2013, 6:12 pm

Cloncurry already reached 39 degrees at 10:30am (AEST).
ABC Cloncurry already reached 39 degrees at 10:30am (AEST).

Emergency crews are dealing with about 30 grassfires across Queensland, with dry conditions and high temperatures complicating the task.

Fire weather warnings are in place for a number of central and southern regions as temperatures soar to more than eight degrees above average.

Water-bombing helicopters have been called in to help battle a large grassfire in the Ipswich area, west of Brisbane.

The blaze is causing problems at Collingwood Park.

Elsewhere, nine crews are dealing with a fire that broke out on private property at Booyal in the Wide Bay region, and three crews are monitoring the aftermath of a blaze at Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast.

Peter Varley from the Rural Fire Service (RFS) says while crews are busy, the blazes are under control.

“We’ve got a couple of fires burning around Brisbane, the main one just north of Brisbane up at Stanmore,” he said.

“That burnt all last night and crews put in some big backburns around that one to get it ready for today.

“It’s in the state forest so Parks and Wildlife and our crews are working on that one again today.

“We have it contained at the moment, but under these conditions we have to be very careful with any fires.”

Extreme fire warnings in state’s south

Fire authorities are on high alert with extreme fire dangers in southern Queensland.

There is a very high to severe fire danger for the south-west, north coast and south-east regions, and extreme conditions are predicted in the Darling Downs and Granite Belt areas.

Senior forecaster Rick Threlfall says severe to extreme fire danger warnings have been issued across much of the state.

“It’s a combination of very dry air over the south of the state, the hot temperatures and some fresh and gusty west to south-westerly winds that will develop over the south of the state as a trough moves through,” he said.

“A perfect combination to lead to those high fire dangers for today.”

The RFS is urging residents across southern Queensland to be vigilant.

Mr Varley says the hot, dry conditions and strong winds will fuel any flames.

“There may be local suspension of anybody that has a permit but we are asking anybody that does not to light up today,” he said.

“The extreme fire conditions – any sort of a spark could start a fire and there’s very very little water in any vegetation that is around.

“We are asking people to be extremely cautious with any sort of ignition sources today.”

Temperatures soar across Queensland

There has been little reprieve from the state’s recording-breaking run of hot weather.

Overnight at Richmond, east of Mount Isa, a low of 27 degrees Celsius was recorded.

The mercury is expected to rise to 41C at Doomadgee in the state’s Gulf Country, and 40C further south at Birdsville and Winton.

The weather bureau says Brisbane will hit 35C today, while Ipswich should reach 37C.

At 10:30 am (AEST), the temperature in Cloncurry, also east of Mount Isa, had reached 39C.

Stacey Robertson from Cloncurry’s pool facility says most people are staying in air-conditioning.

“The people that are coming down are saying that if they didn’t get off that couch now and out of the air-conditioning, they’d be swallowed up all day inside,” she said.

“This has been my busiest season so far.”

Mr Threlfall says the temperatures are more than eight degrees above average.

“A large part of the state – central and southern areas of the state – are well above average as well, so some places could approach around about 40 degrees,” he said.

“Certainly Mount Isa is looking at about 40 degrees but right through the southern interior of the state, generally temperatures are looking to be about five to eight degrees above average.”

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