7 Sep 2019

Fires rage in Queensland and NSW, no sign of slowing

11:44 am on 7 September 2019

Firefighters face potentially catastrophic, hot and windy conditions as they battle bushfires, with at least 17 properties destroyed in Queensland and four in New South Wales.

More than 50 fires are burning across the state, with residents evacuated from parts Beechmont and Binna Burra in the Gold Coast hinterland and Stanthorpe and Applethorpe in the Granite Belt.

Authorities have confirmed at least ten properties have been lost overnight at Binna Burra.

Five homes were also destroyed near Stanthorpe overnight, one at Sarabah on Friday and another near Mareeba was lost on Thursday bringing the total to 17.

An emergency warning is in place for a bushfire burning at Binna Burra, in mountainous terrain south of Canungra through the Lamington National Park.

Authorities say it could take up to a week to bring the Gold Coast hinterland fire under control with strong winds and no rain expected over the next few days.

Fire and Emergency Services Chief Superintendent Lance Duncan said crews are bracing for another big day.

"We're going to put some helicopters up in the air and do some waterbombing and we're going to do some line mapping of the actual fire area, give us a better indication in relation to where those actual fire fronts are now."

At Stanthorpe, on the Granite Belt, people have been told it is too late to leave as a "very dangerous" fire moves east towards the town, while in nearby Applethorpe, an emergency warning has also been issued with residents urged to leave immediately.

At 12.45am authorities said a bushfire was approaching The Summit, Thulimbah, Cottonvale and Dalveen from Applethorpe.

Meanwhile, south of the Queensland border, at least four properties have been lost in northern NSW and a firefighter has suffered facial injuries as an out-of-control fire is fuelled by strong winds.

'Mountain lit up like lava' as fire races through forests near Binna Burra

In the Gold Coast Hinterland, the QFES said a number of blazes were burning in mountainous terrain south of Canungra through the Lamington National Park.

Watch and act warnings were issued shortly after midnight for a number of blazes travelling rapidly through the national park, expecting to impact Springbrook, Witheren and Numinbah Valley.

As at 9pm Friday, the fire was burning in a southerly direction towards Binna Burra..

Staff and guests at the Binna Burra resort in the Lamington rainforest were evacuated earlier on Friday afternoon.

Authorities said firefighters may be unable to prevent the fire advancing and the fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path.

Belinda Pearl evacuated from her home on the edge of Canungra earlier on Friday.

"I walked right up the back and I could actually see that there was fire on the property.

"When we drove out we just saw the whole mountain lit up like lava coming down the mountain."

Rural Fire Service spokesman Alan Gillespie said the situation had "deteriorated significantly" during Friday afternoon.

"We have a very dangerous fire - it is spotting 200 metres ahead of itself so we have taken the action of telling people to leave the area immediately.

"We do have firefighters in the area, we do have firefighting aircraft in the area, but I can confirm we have already lost one house and we have a number of others that are under direct threat."

'Too late to leave' in Stanthorpe

QFES said people in the path of the Stanthorpe fire were in imminent danger and needed to seek shelter to survive.

"Do not attempt to leave the area. Driving now would be extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. If you are not in the area, do not return," a QFES statement said.

"Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters are unable to prevent the fire advancing."

An emergency warning was issued at 10.40pm for the Applethorpe bushfire approaching along the New England Highway, with residents told leaving immediately was the safest option as it would soon be too dangerous to drive.

Police have marked out a declared zone around Stanthorpe and Applethorpe, urging people not to enter it and avoid any travel unless directed by emergency services.

QFES Acting Deputy Commissioner Neil Gallant said the direct threat to residents in close vicinity to the blaze near Stanthorpe had been minimised.

"The fire itself is not impacting the township - embers are - as it's spotting over, so what we've done is evacuate about 50 or 60 people from an area right on the fringe there that was getting a lot of ember attack.

"The crews have been quite successful in patrolling that area, extinguishing any spot fires."

Power has been lost in the Stanthorpe township and Ergon are assessing the situation.

An evacuation centre has been set up at the Stanthorpe fitness centre in.

Mayor Tracy Dobie asked residents to follow the advice from QFES and said planes and fire trucks were fighting the blaze.

NSW: Two houses, two businesses lost, firefighter has facial burns

At least two houses and two businesses have been destroyed in the town of Tenterfield in northern NSW and a firefighter has suffered facial burns as an out-of-control fire is fuelled by strong winds.

Emergency warnings have been issued for four fires in the state's north, and a fifth blaze at Lithgow is still burning in what has been described by the Rural Fire Service as one of the worst fire days on record

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has confirmed a volunteer firefighter has suffered burns to his face, hands and airways fighting the blaze in Tenterfield and has been airlifted to Sydney for treatment.

The RFS said a second firefighter had been injured but did not provide further details.

The fire is burning "intensely and aggressively" according to the RFS, and has impacted Laird Street, Francis Street, King Lane, Scott Lane and Trail Lane in Tenterfield.

At 11pm on Friday night, RFS said a wind change had increased the fire activity, with the fire being pushed towards the Bruxner Highway.

Small fixed wing planes and helicopters are being used to attack the blaze.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said erratic winds gusting between 70 to 90kph were causing dangerous conditions which would continue into the evening.

A fire near Lithgow in the state's central west has been downgraded to advice level after burning at emergency level and threatening properties earlier in the day.

RFS said embers from the fires may be blown well ahead of the blazes, potentially causing spot fires which may threaten properties.

'Worst fire day' for this early in season

There are almost 700 firefighters battling around 60 fires, of which almost 50 remain out of control.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons said it had been one of the worst fire days on record for this time of year.

"Working with the Bureau of Meteorology, looking through our data records, we can't find records where fire danger ratings have been this high this early in the year in the history of data available."