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Qld bushfire latest: Fire crews battle fast-moving blaze north of Toowoomba

By Kate McKenna, Sally Rafferty and staff, Friday November 15, 2019 - 21:04 EDT

Ground crews and waterbombing aircraft have been working to control a dangerous and fast-moving bushfire that has flared again to threaten two towns on the Darling Downs, west of Brisbane.

An emergency warning to leave immediately was issued earlier this afternoon for Pechey and Ravensbourne but was downgraded to "watch and act" advice by nightfall.

"Fire crews are working to contain the fire but firefighters may not be able to protect every property," Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said in a statement.

The fire has been burning for days, with an evacuation centre at the Highfields Indoor Sports Centre open in case the situation deteriorates again.

More than 50 fires are burning across the state.

One uncontained blaze is of major concern for communities south of Bundaberg, at Walkers Point Road and the neighbouring township of Kinkuna. Both have "watch and act" orders.

Some people who had been trapped for days, after the one road into Woodgate was cut, were allowed back into the town on Friday evening.

Authorities are bracing for the fire threat to again intensify in parts of Queensland, with the warmer weather expected to persist over the weekend.

Richard Wardle from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said there was a severe fire danger in the Darling Downs and Granite Belt on Saturday, and very high fire danger in the state's south-east.

"The temperatures in some locations will be more than 6 degrees above average for this time of year," he said.


"The fire danger rating will stay very high or severe because of the temperatures."

He also warned of isolated and potentially severe storms over the weekend, but said the rainfall was tipped to be minimal, meaning there likely would not be "any reprieve for ongoing fires".

"The main story with these storms could be the dry lightning, potentially igniting further fires," he said.

The BOM has released its outlook for the rest of November and December, pointing towards warmer and drier-than-average conditions.

Senior climatologist Lynette Bettio said "above-average daytime temperatures" would be felt across much of Australia.

"This really does increase the chance of an early season heatwave, like we're currently seeing in northern parts of Australia," she said.

"Any days with strong winds will again set the stage for dangerous bushfire weather."

After a long start to the bushfire season already, station officer Robert Rafferty said exhaustion had started to set in.

"With the ongoing campaigns in New South Wales and Western Australia, we are struggling to maintain fresh crews.

"But firefighters being firefighters, we will continue to bat up and work very hard."


© ABC 2019

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