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Posted by: Colmait Offline Posted: Thursday, 5 September 2019 4:28:59 PM(UTC)

Catastrophic bushfire conditions forecast for parts of southern Queensland tomorrow
Updated 48 minutes ago

Bushfire smoke haze over the Gold Coast hinterland, looking toward a hazy city skyline
PHOTO: Smoke haze from Sarabah bushfires obscuring the Gold Coast skyline on Thursday morning. (ABC News)
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There will be extreme to locally catastrophic fire danger conditions in the Darling Downs, Granite Belt, Maranoa and Warrego tomorrow, the Queensland Rural Fire Service (QRFS) has said, while residents near Sarabah in the Gold Coast hinterland are being told to prepare to leave.

Key points

The Rural Fire Service warns extreme to locally catastrophic conditions are being forecast tomorrow for the state's south
People in the Darling Downs, Granite Belt, Maranoa and Warrego are being urged to prepare now
Residents near Sarabah in the Gold Coast hinterland are being told to prepare to leave their homes
It would only be the second time a catastrophic fire danger rating had been declared — the first was in November last year when fierce bushfires ravaged central Queensland.

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior forecaster Peter Otto said a cold front would move across the state on Friday.

"Ahead of that there will be hot, dry windy conditions," he said.

He said it was difficult to say what specific areas might experience catastrophic conditions.

"It's not helpful to try and pinpoint specific areas of catastrophic because it really is isolated in nature," he said.

"But generally speaking, around the Darling Downs and Granite Belt, that's the area where the largest risk is forecast as that area will be hotter and have the strongest winds."

The fire danger rating scale pointing to catastrophic.
PHOTO: The catastrophic fire ratings has only been declared once before, in November last year. (ABC News)
QRFS acting regional manager Clinton Newman has urged people to prepare now and heed any warnings from emergency services.

"We're looking at fires that will be fast moving and difficult to control, so people who do not have well-prepared properties or who haven't got a plan, we're in the phase where it might be too late so their plan might be to leave early," Mr Newman said.
"We'll see fire bans from midnight Thursday night or Friday morning, through to midnight Friday night or Saturday morning … so pretty much all of Friday.

"So … make preparations today."

The areas facing a significant fire threat include Toowoomba, Southern Downs, Western Downs, Goondiwindi, Maranoa and the Balonne Shire council areas.

Sarabah fire threat
PHOTO: Smoke pouring from bushfires at Sarabah in the Gold Coast hinterland on Thursday morning. (ABC News)
Meanwhile, residents at Sarabah, south of Canungra, in the Gold Coast hinterland have been told to prepare to leave their homes, with conditions once more expected to worsen this afternoon.

People in the Gold Coast hinterland area are being impacted by heavy smoke that is reducing visibility and air quality.

QRFS regional fire manager for Brisbane, Wayne Waltisbuhl, told ABC Radio Brisbane crews are struggling to bring the Sarabah fire under control.

"That fire's not contained at the moment … it's in really rugged terrain, which makes it hard for firefighters to get access," he said.

There are no properties under direct threat, but fire authorities have urged residents to be ready to enact their bushfire survival plans.

"We have not seen it this dry for so long coming out of winter without any rain — it has really caused us some real concerns," Mr Waltisbuhl said.

"We are taking this forecast and the conditions we can see very seriously at the moment, this is one of the worst forecasts we can get.

'An event worth respecting'

Mr Otto described expected conditions on Friday as a "rare event".

"It looks like the highest fire dangers for September for at least six years, so it's certainly a rare event, and one worth respecting."

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VIDEO: A 'Leave Now' order was issued during a bushfire on Queensland's Scenic Rim. (ABC News)
What is a catastrophic fire?

A catastrophic fire danger rating is as bad as it gets
While some homes may survive a severe or extreme fire if you're well prepared, the Country Fire Authority says no homes are designed to withstand catastrophic conditions
If a fire starts and takes hold during catastrophic fire conditions, the weather bureau says it will be "extremely difficult to control" and take "significant firefighting resources"
A catastrophic fire warning was last issued in Queensland in November 2018
When these warnings are issued, your only safe option is to leave the area early
The catastrophic category was added following the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria
He said "vigorous winds" were also expected to whip up a dust storm in western Queensland, affecting the south of the state into the weekend.

"We do expect some of that dust to reach the populated parts of the south-east coast," he said.

"So we expect through the weekend, a dust haze to emerge on the south-east coast, but it won't be as substantial as the dust over western Queensland."

He said wind gusts of 35-40 kph were forecast for southern districts on Friday, moving towards the east coast, ahead of a cooler change.

"Temperatures ahead of that cool change will be 7 to 8 degrees above average, maybe 9 degrees in some parts through tomorrow," he said.

"After the change, temperatures will drop to around the average, possibly below."

Other areas facing severe threat

The fire rating for the Central Highlands and Coalfields, Wide Bay and Burnett and south-east coast is expected to be severe tomorrow.

What to do if bushfire threatens

What to do if bushfire threatens
ABC Emergency has sourced advice from official agencies on how to plan for a bushfire, including preparing a survival kit.
There is currently one bushfire in the south-east at advice level, at Kurwongbah in the Moreton Bay shire.

Two other fires, at Upper Flagstone in the Lockyer Valley and Frazerview in the Scenic Rim, have been downgraded to notification level.

All three of those fires have been contained.

A very high fire danger remains in place for eastern districts.

There's a total fire ban for most of southern Queensland including Logan, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Somerset, Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim.

Under a local fire ban, open fires are prohibited and all permits to light fire that have been issued in areas will been cancelled.

Topics: bushfire, fires, emergency-incidents, emergency-planning, disasters-and-accidents, toowoomba-4350, qld, australia, brisbane-4000, frazerview-4309, canungra-4275, goondiwindi-4390, lockyer-4344, southport-4215

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