Fire conditions 'almost like a furnace' in Ipswich region

THE REGION'S rural firefighters remain on alert with conditions in some parts of Ipswich and West Moreton the driest they've been in decades.

Crews are pleading with residents to take care, with many instances of fires triggered by grinders or welders.

With several crews this morning returning to the scene of a major grass fire that tore through an estimated 2000 hectares near Mt Walker on Tuesday afternoon, Rural Fire Service south-eastern manager Superintendent Alan Gillespie said anticipated showers might only give firefighters enough time to restock vehicles and make any minor repairs.

Some residents affected by Tuesday's fire chose to leave their homes, as flames burned right up to the doorstep on several properties.

Mr Gillespie said other chose to stay and help firefighters keep the flames at bay.

In all, 26 crews were on the ground and worked into the night to control the fire.

"Protecting those homes was our first action. The proximity of the flames did concern a number of those residents," he said.

Mr Gillespie there was no damage to structures or cattle caught up in the fire, which moved quickly to the north-east after starting in the vicinity of Blanchs Rd about 1.30pm.

 

Bushfire at Lower Mount Walke.
Bushfire at Lower Mount Walke. Cordell Richardson

"We are still in Very High Fire Danger at the moment and crews are on standby," he said.

"Soil moisture levels are at record lows. The big concern areas for us are around Esk and Boonah, where there is a very heavy fuel load.

"People in Boonah are telling me they haven't seen conditions like this in 50 years."

Scenic Rim Mayor and Tarome Rural Fire Brigade member Greg Christensen said the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie had left Boonah and surrounds with a huge fuel load that had since dried out.

"The situation has been compounded over the last few weekends by the strong winds - it's almost the equivalent of having a furnace," Cr Christensen said.

"The risks are massive and we consider ourselves lucky to have got away with having only localised grass fires so far."

 

Bushfire at Lower Mount Walke.
Bushfire at Lower Mount Walke. Cordell Richardson

The Mayor said some people had "made some bad decisions" with regard to using welders, grinders and slashers on rural properties and unwittingly starting fires.

"All it takes is for a slasher to hit a rock," he said.

"In one case, a person was using a grinder in a shed and a spark flew out the door."

Some showers are on the radar for this weekend, but firefighters are asking residents not to be complacent.

Mr Gillespie said the showers forecast would, at best, only provide temporary relief.

"The total fire ban remains in place until midnight tonight, and we will reassess that later," he said.

Mr Gillespie paid tribute to south-east Queensland's volunteer brigades, some of whom came in from the Gold Coast to assist the two dozen-strong contingent at Mt Walker.

"Have a look at the volunteers who go to work all day then fight fires well into the night," he said.

"I get paid, but they don't."



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