National News

Residents flee massive Queensland fire


Residents in the path of a monster fire burning in state forest north of Toowoomba in Queensland have been urged to flee as the blaze closes in on the town of Crows Nest.

The massive fire in the Pechey State Forest has tripled in size forcing schools and businesses to close as firefighters struggle to contain the blaze.

Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio told AAP the fire threat was at emergency level.

A "leave immediately" has been issued as the fire approaches the southeastern side of Crows Nest.

Residents in the vicinity of Tin Mine Road, Three Mile Road (between Tin Mine Road and Dingo Road), Orchard Road, Pinnell Road, Grapetree Road and Perseverance Dam Road have been warned to evacuate.

"Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing," authorities warn.

An evacuation centre is open at the Crows Nest Showgrounds on the New England Highway.

Fire has ripped through the Pechey forest north of Toowoomba in recent days, damaging water supply to the city and a dozen surrounding smaller communities.

Residents are restricted to domestic water use only as the council works to repair the network damage.

Fires burnt the powerlines connected to the water network including the Cressbrook Dam pump station stopping water pumping from the region's largest source of water.

"It will be necessary to limit water consumption for indoor human use and water for pets," Mr Antonio said.

"Water supply will be maintained wherever possible to help with firefighting work."

The state's bushfire crisis has entered its second week, with more than 80 fires burning across the state.

More than 158,000 hectares has been burnt and 16 homes have been lost.

Wild storms created challenging conditions for crews on Sunday but there was no loss of property.

On Moreton Island campers, including some schoolies, left isolated northern campgrounds after lightning started a fire on Saturday.

The blaze is burning towards the township of Bulwer, with a leave now warning in place there as crews work to steer the fire around the community.

Authorities are also watching a cluster of difficult blazes in the Border Ranges region, from Cunninghams Gap and Spicers Gap south to Mount Barney and Mount Lindsay.

Some of those fires have been burning for weeks and every time strong winds arrive, as they did at the weekend, they are pushed uphill and into steep terrain that crews cannot access.

Other major fires at Cobraball, west of Yeppoon, and at Woodgate, south of Bundaberg, are mostly contained after a weekend of hard work by fire crews.

Mr Waltisbuhl says firefighters are exhausted and the national battle for personnel is now being keenly felt.

"Across Australia, it's getting really tough to move firefighters around because all the states are now in their fire seasons," he said.

"We're really at a bit of a pinch point at the moment."

About 120 interstate firefighters are still helping on fire grounds in Queensland.

© AAP 2019