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Bushfire fears as southern Queensland faces significant fire risk over the weekend

By Tim Swanston, Saturday September 23, 2017 - 17:13 EST
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Emergency services are concerned by the spike in heat, along with strong wind gusts. - ABC

Southern Queensland is in the grip of hot and dry conditions which prompted major fears for significant bushfires over the weekend.

Bushfire season is about 80 per cent worse than last year so far, with around 1,800 recorded fires this year compared to 1,000 in 2016.

Thargomindah had its hottest September day on record, hitting 40.4 degrees. Records there go back to 1938.

Birdsville was the hottest town in the state, reaching 41.6 degrees: its hottest day since 2003.

Everywhere west of Roma experienced temperatures 12 to 14 degrees above average, but sea breezes helped keep coastal areas cooler.

The heat is expected to push further east on Sunday ahead of a trough, with more temperature records likely to fall.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning of an extreme fire danger in the Maranoa and Warrego on Sunday and a severe fire danger in the Central Highlands and Coalfields, Central West, Darling Downs, Granite Belt and Southeast Coast.

Queensland Fire and Emergency services forecasted an extreme fire danger for Maranoa and Warrego in the state's south, along with severe warnings for Channel Country, Darling Downs and the Granite Belt.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services are concerned by the spike in heat, along with strong wind gusts.

"The concern is that as it moves through it will bring drier conditions, hotter conditions, and there's gusty winds that in turn makes it very hard to control any fire that does start and it does apply to wide areas of southern, south-west Queensland," said the acting director of rural operations, James Haigh.

"Even where the fire danger is a little bit lower, it's really important to be prepared, because much of Queensland is exposed to bushfire risk at the moment."

Extra resources have been placed on standby, including fire crews and aircraft.

"A lot of the regions are on higher alert levels, which means we have aircraft on standby [doing] some early flying this morning," Mr Haig said.

"We've also got a lot of volunteers and salaried staff who are around who are on higher alert levels.

"Through the week we've emphasised controlling the fires that have already existed, putting them to bed, and tightening control in anticipation for the worse conditions to come."


© ABC 2017

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