Drought, then fire ravage Darling Downs

Sonia Kohlbacher

Paul Antonio felt sick in his stomach the moment he drove through the front gate of his Darling Downs farm this week.

Sicker still as he got closer and closer to the homestead he has known for decades.

"Most things are dead," the Toowoomba Regional Council mayor told AAP on Saturday.

He is seeing a growing sense of hopelessness in a community devastated by drought and now facing the brunt of severe fire conditions that will become extreme by Sunday.

Authorities had for days kept their eye on a blaze at Pechey and Ravensbourne, north of Toowoomba, before a flare forced evacuations on Saturday.

That fire is being fought on the ground and in the air.

Trees in the area are dying, livestock are having to be fed by hand and there is no rain in sight.

It has led to a higher risk of fire and more intense blazes when they do take off.

Mr Antonio's property receives about 26 inches of rain annually, but this year it's barely gotten four.

Further east towards Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley, or south to Warwick and Stanthorpe, water is running out.

"There is a lack of understanding on the part of the government, both state and federal, of where exactly we are," Mr Antonio added.

"This is a doozy.

"We've had drought on drought on drought on drought."

He says despair has crept in among his community, and that people are becoming angry as they watch prime country go to ruin and then burn.

"When I drive across that country ... that has been put up to me as being some of the best country for holding moisture and standing up in dry times, but there is no greenery now," he added.

"This is as bad as it gets."