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Two years on from flood, firies face another threat

PREPARED: Pine Mountain Rural Fire Brigade first officer Denis Mahon (right) and firefighter Ailsa Christensen.
PREPARED: Pine Mountain Rural Fire Brigade first officer Denis Mahon (right) and firefighter Ailsa Christensen. Rob Williams

WITH yesterday's scorching heat came gusty and dry north-westerly winds and the kind of low-humidity conditions that firefighters dread.

Two years to the day after record rainfall brought catastrophic floods to the Lockyer Valley, emergency services had a completely different hazard to contend with.

More than 3500 rural firefighters, making up 85 crews, are at the ready across the south-east region - stretching from the Gold Coast to Esk, as the tinder dry landscape threatened to erupt. Their colleagues were already in action at Bribie Island yesterday, from where a huge bushfire sent clouds of smokes drifting across Brisbane and Ipswich.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service rural operations area director Corey Bock said the fire risk across Ipswich was as bad as firefighters had seen since the terrible run of bushfires that came late last year.

"We have had a little bit of rain and that has probably helped slightly. Instead of the vegetation being 100% cured we are currently sitting at about 90%," Mr Bock said.

In saying that, we have had fires over the last three to four days and we are expecting further activity this week.

"In saying that, we have had fires over the last three to four days and we are expecting further activity this week."

A fire broke out in bushland at Munruben - near Greenbank - about 11am yesterday. Seven rural crews were required to bring the fire under control.

Several firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion.

Police feared another bushfire at Springfield - first reported about 12.30pm - was deliberately lit.

Children were seen running from the area of bushland where a fire started. The fire was brought under control quickly and was extinguished by 1pm.

There were also reports of a paddock fire at Iredale, near Helidon, where five crews were required.

Of the 3500 firefighters on standby throughout the south-east, about 300 people and nine brigades were at the ready in Ipswich. The city's urban crews were also on high alert.

Hot north-westerly winds will maintain until next Monday, when they are expected to turn south-easterly late in the afternoon.

Topics:  bribie island, bushfire season, queensland fire and rescue service, rural firefighters


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