'Still bad days': Fire danger ramps up for Queensland and NSW

Australian Associated Press

Fire conditions in Queensland are becoming more grim as the weekend goes on, with forecasts of extreme conditions in some parts of the state.

Weather conditions that have stoked and started bushfires across Queensland are not letting up and are set to become extreme in some parts of the state.

The Darling Downs and Granite Belt areas are forecast to fare the worst, with extreme conditions forecast for Sunday.

Firefighters, from Fire and Rescue NSW and NSW Rural Fire Service, help defend a property near Colo Heights. A fire truck is seen in the foreground as smoke billows above it.
Fire and Rescue NSW along with NSW Rural Fire Service crews prepare to defend a property as the Gospers Mountain fire burns close to the Coloul Sawmill near Colo Heights on Friday. Source: AAP

Residents of the town of Cowan Cowan on Moreton Island were told to leave on Saturday after a fire broke out, reportedly caused by lightning.

Early on Sunday Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said the bushfire had burned around the township and was heading north towards Bulwer.

Severe conditions are also expected in the Southeast Coast area, the Maranoa and Warrego district, and the Central Highlands and Coalfields region from Emerald and south to the Carnavon Ranges.

More than 70 fires were burning across the state on Saturday evening, with emergency warnings in place at Ravensbourne, north of Toowoomba, and at Mount Lindesay, near the Queensland and NSW border.

Conditions should ease on Monday before worsening by Wednesday.

Sydney fire burns through area larger than Canberra

Fire danger ratings in northern NSW and Sydney will increase on Sunday, but firefighters are particularly concerned about worsening conditions mid-week.

Homes continue to be destroyed by bushfires in NSW despite conditions remaining below the extreme fire danger level.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has warned against complacency as it confirmed another 44 homes had been destroyed by bushfire since November 8.

Fire danger ratings on Sunday are severe in four northern NSW regions and very high in the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, Central Ranges and North Coast regions.

"We need to recognise that those are still bad days. We don't need it to be at the catastrophic range for it to be considered a bad day," NSW RFS Inspector Ben Shepherd told reporters on Saturday.

Firefighters backburn along Putty Road in Colo Heights in Sydney on Saturday.
Firefighters backburn along Putty Road in Colo Heights in Sydney on Saturday. Source: AAP

"We've lost more homes in the last few weeks in that very high to severe range than we did on the real bad blow-up days."

The RFS late on Saturday announced 303 homes had been confirmed razed since November 8.

More than 100 homes have been damaged while 785 sheds and other outbuildings have been damaged or destroyed.

Nearly 40 schools and other facilities have been impacted.

At least one home was destroyed on Saturday morning by the massive Gospers Mountain blaze on Sydney's northwestern outskirts.

That fire has already burned through 120,000 hectares – a footprint larger than Canberra – and was among more than 20 yet to be contained late on Saturday.

Smoke from nearby fires left Port Macquarie residents enduring an air quality worse than New Delhi and Beijing with the index reaching 1848 on Saturday morning.

By Saturday afternoon, it had improved to 236 – a rating still above the threshold for hazardous air quality.

Total fire bans will be in place for five NSW regions on Sunday - the Greater Hunter, Far North Coast, New England, Northern Slopes and North Western.

Donations to The Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery fund can be made online or by calling 1800-RED-CROSS (733 276).

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