Fire is sucked into the air in this fire twister captured at Thargomindah in south-west Queensland.
Fire is sucked into the air in this fire twister captured at Thargomindah in south-west Queensland. Belinda Easton

Firefighters amazed at outback fire twister photographs

STRONGER winds are expected to increase the fire threat across Queensland as regions ranging from Ipswich to Gympie and out west to Tooowoomba feel the impact of what is shaping up to be one of the worst bushfire seasons on record.

Regional manager of rural operations Peter Hollier told the ABC this morning that stronger winds would increase the fire threat to a dangerous level north of Gympie on Thursday and Friday.

Large grassfires are burning across Agnes Water, Bundaberg, Kingaroy, the North Burnett and Gympie but all have been contained within fire breaks.

>>See a map of the fires on the Rural Fire Service website

The ABC reported that another blaze near Morven in the south-west has been contained in the Chesterton Range National Park and firefighters have extinguished a blaze at Mount Morgan, south-west of Rockhampton.

The Queensland Times reported that residents at Springfield, Grantham and Moogerah were placed on alert  as strong winds continued to propel dozens of massive bushfires.

The blazes that have been menacing Greenbank, Springfield and Redbank Plains over the past week have merged, requiring multiple crews of firefighters to keep close watch over School Rd and the Centenary Hwy at Redbank Plains.

There were also firefighters using heavy equipment to protect homes along Bellbird Dve, Platypus Dve and Goldfinch Ct at nearby Greenbank.

The total area that has been burned out was estimated to have surpassed 4000 hectares.

Greenbank mum Jo Christiaans said fires had been continually flaring up over the past 11 days.

"On Wednesday we woke up and the fire was 10m from our fence line, it was quite scary," she said.

In Toowoomba, water bomber planes were called in after back-burning efforts along Sebastapool Rd jumped containment lines in steep terrain near the Lake Cressbrook dam wall.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service south-west region Acting Inspector John Welke said two of the water bombers concentrated on the break-out yesterday afternoon while a third water bomber assisted crews putting in containment lines on Three Mile Rd.

"We will have to continue water bombing for a couple of hours," Act. Insp. Welke said

Meanwhile, crews rushed to a large grassfire in the Lockyer Valley yesterday after it threatened to break containment lines.

The grassfire was burning in state forest near the intersection of Sandy Ck and Fordes Rds.

Director of regional operations for south-west region Acting Chief Superintendent Jeff King said most of the fires burning in the Roma and Charleville districts since the weekend were yesterday contained.

Water bombers assisted ground crews and landholders in their efforts to save property.

The Toowoomba Chronicle also reported how a rare fire tornado has been witnessed near Thargomindah where grassfires have been burning for days.

Amateur photographer Belinda Easton photographed the phenomenon as it formed inside the inferno and went about 300 metres into the air.

Flames then broke off and went about 400 metres over a fire break, starting another grassfire.

The rarely seen destructive phenomenon occurs when an intensely hot fire sucks in cold air.

In the Bundaberg region, rural fire brigades are continuing to fight a grass fire near Calliope on Thursday morning.

It's believed the Calliope Rural Fire Brigade was fighting the blaze near Brendonna Rd, Burua around 1am this morning.

It's unknown how large the fire is at this stage, but Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Gladstone said it posed no direct threat to properties.

A Department of Community Services spokesperson said rural fire crews would continue to monitor the fire closely today.

In the Gympie region, Mr Hollier warned that any fire that starts in the next day will be harder to contain.

"A change of the wind, that will probably start occurring on Thursday, where we are currently getting winds from the south that will change into Friday," he told the ABC.

"But yes, there will be a hotter weather condition that is developing and will see any fire that will kick off on Friday will very quickly become difficult to manage."

On Wednesday, crews battled 42 blazes - including major outbreaks, while on Tuesday more than 60 fires were burning.

 

MAKING YOUR HOUSE AND PROPERTY FIRE SAFE

  • Keep grass cut
  • Reduce 'fine fuels' - Fine fuels are things such as long dry grass, fallen leaves and twigs. Anything smaller in diameter than your little finger is a fine fuel and it is these that you need to clean up around your property.
  • Clear away dead undergrowth, and fallen branches.
  • Move wood piles away from your home.
  • Clean leaves out of gutters.
  • Plant trees and shrubs away from your home.
  • Plant a protective shield of trees around the house to slow the wind, cut down radiant heat and catch flying embers and sparks from a bushfire.
  • Place weather stripping around the inside of doors and windows.
  • Close underfloor spaces and seal all gaps where embers could enter.
  • Make firescreens to go over windows to prevent the glass from cracking in radiant heat.
  • Mains water supply may not be a reliable source during a fire as the water pressure may drop. Make sure that you have access to adequate water supplies, such as tanks, dams, swimming pools or water reserves. Install a sprinkler system around your home.
  • Power may go off - so don't rely on electrical pumps for supply of water.
  • Gather appropriate firefighting equipment such as ladders, hoses, buckets, mops, portable water pumps,  rake, a torch, and a knapsack spray to put out small "spot" fires.
     

For the latest comprehensive advice check out the Rural Fire Service website booklet here.


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