Queensland firefighters are bracing for “extreme fire danger” conditions as they continue battling about 80 blazes burning in the state.
Providing an update on Monday afternoon, Rural Fire Service (RFS) Acting Deputy Commissioner Joanne Greenfield said 46 houses had now been lost, as well as 30 sheds and eight mobile properties.
She said any new fires sparked on Tuesday would be hard to control.
“To help us with that we’ve put in fire bans across the state in over 64 (local government areas) … we’re also preparing for tomorrow by moving the large air tanker from Bundaberg down to Wellcamp (near Toowoomba),” Deputy Commissioner Greenfield said.
RFS Acting Assistant Commissioner Peter Hollier said they would be putting direct pressure on containment lines around blazes in the state’s southwest.
“We will see an increase in the wind, certainly the high temperatures, low humidities,” Assistant Commissioner Holler said.
“We’re certainly anxious in relation to what will happen (Tuesday) … we’re in a relatively good position this afternoon.”
Only about 48 people remain in evacuation centres, down from a peak of 300, and there have been no reports of theft in the fire areas.
Earlier, Rural Fire Service Superintendent John Welke earlier urged Darling Downs residents to heed the warnings.
“If you’re working outside over the coming days – welding, grinding, whatever else, using something that could cause a spark or ignition – please have a serious think about whether you need to be doing those activities over the coming days,” he said.
“We have already seen a number of new starts today that are further draining our resources.
“Our crews are very tired and we need to ensure we’re able to support the community of southwestern Queensland.”
Authorities are preparing to issue an “extreme” fire danger rating across the Darling Downs for Tuesday, as temperatures soar towards 40C.
Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) meteorologist Livio Regano has told the Courier Mail
Toowoomba would get to the low-30Cs on Tuesday, while the northwestern parts of the Darling Downs could get close to 40C.
“The humidity is naturally very low and the winds will probably get to 30, 35km/h, maybe up to 40km/h which is quite gusty,” Mr Regano said.
“[Tuesday] is probably the worst day because after the change comes through, in other words when a cooler south-westerly comes through, that’s when the winds could get up to 45km/h and be gustiest so the fire behind fire danger will probably happen after.”
Ipswich and Gatton could reach 38C, while Brisbane is likely to reach 34C, before a cooler change and isolated storms from Wednesday.
The bushfire near Tara continues to be the subject of a bushfire emergency warning.
Earlier, evacuation warnings were issued as bushfires near Australia Zoo’s boundary.
Firefighting aircraft are working to extinguish a fire at Landsborough, a few kilometres away from the iconic 283ha zoo operated by the Irwin family.
The “large fast-moving fire” remains at the watch and act level as of 5pm on Sunday and is travelling towards Hardwood Rd.
Residents between Steve Irwin Way, Graham Drive, Fraser Rd, and Hardwood Rd have been warned that “conditions could get worse quickly” and they should be prepared to leave.
“Firefighters are working to control the fire. You should not expect a firefighter at your door,” the QFES said on its website.
Australia Zoo issued a statement on Monday morning saying it was “currently safe” but monitoring the situation closely.
“Australia Zoo is actively liaising with the QFES to monitor the current bushfires near Beerwah,” a spokesperson said.
“We also have well-established fire protocols, extensive equipment and trained personnel here at Australia Zoo.
“We are very proud of the incredible efforts of the Fire and Rescue Service, Rural Fire Service, and State Emergency Service in helping ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community at this time.”
The warning came less than 24 hours after locals were first evacuated from their homes about 8pm on Saturday.
This was revoked by 10.30pm – allowing residents to return home that evening – after the fast-moving fire had threatened Beerwah and Landsborough townships.
Major roads or highways may still be impacted by the fire; however, currently there are no properties at risk.