News State QLD News Queensland smashes heat records through ‘unprecedented’ fire conditions

Queensland smashes heat records through ‘unprecedented’ fire conditions

firefighters in Deepwater
Firefighters head down Pacific Drive in Deepwater, where a bushfire has torn through 16,000 hectares. Photo: AAP
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Queensland heat records have been smashed across the state, as “unprecedented” bushfire conditions worsened.

Proserpine in the Whitsunday region reached 44.9 degrees on Monday, its hottest ever temperature recorded.

Mt Stuart broke 45.2 degrees, with more maximum records at Innisfail Airport at 32 degrees, South Johnstone reaching 41.3, 39.7 for Mackay Airport and 38.9 in Low Isles.

Parts of the state broke the records before midday.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said Mackay Airport had only gone above 36 degrees twice in November since 1950 to this year.

But it is forecast to have seven consecutive days above 36, following Sunday and Monday temperatures.

Severe fire conditions are expected again on Tuesday in the Central West, Channel Country and Maranoa and Warrego.

Monday’s “unprecedented” fire conditions came from the hot temperatures, and erratic and unseasonably dry winds.

A bushfire that began at Deepwater National Park, near Bundaberg, on Saturday has taken two homes and burned through 17,000 hectares by 5pm Queensland time on Monday.

The front of the fire stretched for 66 kilometres in parts, with flames up to 12 metres high.

Spot fires were flaring up two hours ahead of the fire.

It was so big it was fuelling itself by creating its own winds, and an ember storm had also developed behind the base of the fire.

“The fire front is the easy part, we can see that and manage it,” fire service operations director Paul Smeath told locals at a meeting in nearby Agnes Water.

“It’s the ember storms that happen back behind it.”

Two homes at Deepwater had been destroyed by Monday and it’s not known how many more have been damaged.

At least 50 have been saved.

Agnes Water, Baffle Creek and Deepwater have been evacuated with emergency shelters set up at Miriam Vale and Agnes Water.

A disaster declaration has been made for Baffle Creek Catchment, Wartburg, Deepwater, Agnes Water, Round Hill, Miriam Vale and Bororen, meaning authorities can force people to leave their homes.

Rules Beach and Oyster Creek were also expected to be affected on Monday night.

Agnes Waters local Synon Holland said he had seen fire crews shield two nearby homes on Monday afternoon, hours after waking to see flames not far from his own property.

“It’s almost the perfect firestorm for us … it’s not a surprise but we didn’t initially expect it to have the impact that it has had,” Mr Holland told AAP.

Forty crews were battling the blaze on the ground on Monday. The NSW Royal Fire Service sent a Large Air Tanker to assist, and another 100 firefighters will be sent to the state on Tuesday.

Mr Holland said that would be a welcome relief.

“The fatigue is really starting to set in on some of these guys because they had a huge day yesterday, they’ve had a few hours sleep last night and then a huge day again today on multiple fronts,” he said.

BOM said a “vigorous trough” would shift on Tuesday and result in very windy conditions and elevated fire dangers for the southwest and southern interior.

Temperatures will remain above average over the east coast, with heatwave conditions in areas north of Fraser Island.

Monitor the fire and weather situation through your local radio station, at Queensland Rural Fire Service and the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service.

If you see a fire or your property is under threat, call triple-0.

-with AAP

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