Forecast: ‘It’s looking very, very grim’

 

THE worst is yet to come for Queensland residents battling with fires, as harsh weather conditions intensify with no reprieve in sight.

Following last weeks devastating fires that tore through parts of the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and the Granite Belt regions, and destroyed 17 homes across the state, emergency services and weather experts warn the coming weeks could be far worse.

Meteorologist at the Queensland Bureau of Meteorology, Livio Regano, said conditions appear dire.

"It's actually looking very, very grim," he said.

"The state is a tinderbox and the only thing that can save us is rain. Until the rain comes, it's just going to keep getting worse."

There is no forecast for rain in the foreseeable future as the state battles with intense drought and the driest winter on record.

Dry conditions paired with a much earlier start to warmer weather than in previous years has created the perfect conditions for bushfires to ravage the state.

"We've never before had such an intense start to the fire season," Mr Regano said.

"We are bone dry. September is historically the driest month (for Queensland), and October only brings rain in late night thunderstorms, which come in the second half of the month.

"We can only hope we get some out-of-season rain before late October."

Fire warnings this weekend remain at high to very high as approximately 50 fires burn across the state.

The fire warning is expected to rise early next week however, as severe north-westerly winds intensify, and temperature remain four to eight degrees above average.

Firefighters are on high alert and continue to work around the clock to protect properties, with today's focus on the bushland in Queensland's southeast pocket.

"Across most of Queensland we are still experiencing very high fire dangers," Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) acting Deputy Commissioner, John Bolger said.

"Our focus for today is around the Sarabah fire, throughout Binna Burra and Lamington Park Road.

"We're trying to get some containment lines to hold and a lot of today depends on the strength of the wind that may develop.

"The only way we can guarantee extinguishment of these fires is with heavy rainfall."

Fires currently do not pose as an immediate threat to Queensland residents or properties, however QFES have advised residents living near fire affected areas to remain aware of conditions within their area while crews work to monitor and contain fires.

The bushfire warning level remains at advice for all current fires, with official messaging from QFES below.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:

• Listen to your local radio station or visit the Rural Fire Service (RFS) website for regular updates.

• If you have a bushfire survival plan, refer to it now and be ready to follow it.

• If you do not have a bushfire survival plan, or if your plan is to leave, identify where you will go if the situation changes.

• Close windows and doors to minimise smoke exposure.

• If you suffer from a respiratory condition, keep your medication close by.

• Drive with caution in low visibility conditions.

• Contact your neighbours to see if they need help preparing for the bushfire.

• Consider finding your essential items (e.g., identification documents, prescription medication, food and water, and protective clothing such as a long-sleeved cotton shirt and trousers, and boots) in case you need to leave.

• Consider what you will do to protect your pets and livestock.

• Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

• Advise family and friends of your intended actions if the situation changes.

KEEP UP TO DATE BY:

• Following QFES on Facebook (@QldFireandRescueService) and Twitter (@QldFES)

• Staying tuned to your local radio station. Find your local ABC radio station at https://radio.abc.net.au/help/offline and your local commercial radio station at http://www.commercialradio.com.au/find-a-station/queensland;

• Visiting the Rural Fire Service (RFS) website at www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au/map

FURTHER INFORMATION:

• For bushfire preparation tips, visit the RFS website: www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au/BushFire_Safety

• For information about road closures, call 13 19 40 or visit www.qldtraffic.qld.gov.au