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Fire crews on alert amid Qld heatwave

By Kim Lyell and Kate Stephens, Friday January 4, 2013 - 20:58 EDT

Fire crews are on high alert with severe conditions covering much of Queensland, west of the Great Dividing Range.

Thirteen fires are burning across the state but authorities say none are threatening property.

The weather bureau has issued a severe fire weather warning in the North West district near Mount Isa, in the Central West near Longreach and south-west of the Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders district.

A Department of Community Safety spokesperson says no property is at risk.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) spokesman Peter Varley says a severe high fire danger is in place for much of the state.

"The whole of the state really from - if you look at Hughenden, if you drew a line down to Emerald and down to Miles and the border, virtually to the west of that - is in a severe fire weather condition," he said.

The QFRS is warning residents to make sure any recent burn-offs are properly extinguished and to clear vegetation around homes and buildings.

It says water bombers are on stand-by in the state's south-west as two fires burn within containment lines.

QFRS acting area director Paul Storrs says the fires got dangerously close to shearing sheds near Thargomindah.

He says crews will be closely monitoring fire conditions this weekend.

"We had to get in a couple of water bomber aircraft and a ... supervisor to come and work those fire-lines to protect some significant structures out there - shearing quarters and things like that," he said.

"Those aircraft are still on stand-by today just to make sure during this fire weather pattern that these fires don't get out of control again."

Heatwave

Residents in Queensland's outback bracing for a second day of mid-40s temperatures, as heatwave conditions hit much of Australia.

On the edge of the Simpson Desert in the state's far south-west, Birdsville hit 45 degrees Celsius yesterday and the temperature is expected to reach 47 today.

Much of Queensland's west is in for a scorcher.

Federal Emergency Management Minister Nicola Roxon says people should take fire danger warnings seriously.

"I think that we need to always be vigilant," she said.

"The catastrophic warning conditions tells people what the conditions are like.

"It doesn't mean a fire will happen - it means if it happens, the consequences can be very severe."

Elderly care

The Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) says residents in western parts of the state to look after the elderly and the young during today's heat.

Mount Isa QAS spokesman Russell Moore says residents should look out for the symptoms of heat stress, which include headaches and dizziness, and also drink plenty of water.

"Eight glasses of water is the general average, but remember the general average is usually on the eastern seaboard," he said.

"Because where we live in the western part of Queensland, it's a lot hotter and it's a lot drier, so we generally encourage people to go a little by higher than that.

"Drink water regularly, don't wait for your body to tell you you're thirsty, because that means you're already dehydrated."

'Over it'

Kate Klem has lived in Longreach for 35 years and says she cannot remember experiencing such a prolonged heat.

She says she is over the current heat wave.

"Everybody's the same as you and me - they're over it," she said.

"I've got neighbours who are in their 80s - they were born here and they don't remember it being so hot for such a long period either.

"We usually get a little break or some rain or something like that."

At Adavale, west of Charleville, police officer Chris Seng says he is expecting a quiet day as the heat keeps residents indoors.

"At this time of year there's just no movement at all, because things are just too hot to go anywhere or do anything," he said.

"But that doesn't even help much either, because the old air-conditioners are struggling a bit too."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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