Queensland faces heatwave, storms, increased fire risk

Suzanne Simonot |

Heatwave conditions are building across parts of Queensland, raising bushfire concerns.
Heatwave conditions are building across parts of Queensland, raising bushfire concerns.

Queenslanders are being urged to get into their gutters as Australia’s most disaster-prone state faces a heatwave, increased fire risk, and possible severe storms.

The warnings come as two women were injured when a house was damaged during a storm at Winya, near Kilcoy, north of Brisbane on Wednesday afternoon that was reported to have ignited a bushfire.

Queensland Ambulance Woodford Station officer in charge Jonathan Ormond said the women, aged in their 60s and 70s, suffered facial injuries after they were struck by debris when a house was extensively damaged during the storm just before 3pm.

The women were taken to Caboolture Hospital in a stable condition.

“It was an extremely isolated and incredibly strong storm that came through,” Mr Ormond said.

More than 4000 lightning strikes were recorded in Kilcoy and surrounds on Wednesday in the hour from 2.40pm, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Severe thunderstorms with large hail are possible over much of the state’s southeast again on Thursday and strong wind warnings are in place for Gold and Sunshine coast waters.

Heightened bushfire conditions were also forecast to return to large parts of Queensland on Wednesday and Thursday with maximum temperatures in the high 30s to low 40s in the central and southern regions.

Authorities fear heatwave conditions powered by strong winds and potential dry lightning strikes could reignite fire grounds.

More than a million hectares have burnt across the state since August 1, with 1000 fires reported since October 21.

Firefighting aircraft helped ground crews fight blazes in the Yuleba State Forest, near Roma, at Dirranbandi, near Saint George, and between Mount Garnet and Irvinebank, in far north Queensland, on Wednesday – three of 60 active fires across the state.

Rural Fire Service Queensland Superintendent James Haig urged people to prepare their properties to mitigate both storm and fire risks.

“I’d urge any Queenslander to go online to prepare their Bushfire Survival Plan and to do all the things that are recommended through the fire and emergency services website and to do the simple preparations around the house because we know that makes a difference,” he told AAP.

“Doing some of these things, particularly clearing your gutters, when the opportunity presents – that can help in preparing for storms as well.

“There’s no downside to cleaning your gutters.”

A severe heatwave warning is in place for the Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders, Central Highlands and Coalfields, Central West, Channel Country, Wide Bay and Burnett and Southeast Coast districts until Friday.

Severe heatwave conditions are expected to ease over southern Queensland later in the week.