Swanfels blaze threatens homes
TEMPERATURES of close to 40 degrees across the Southern Downs yesterday provided treacherous conditions for our fire-fighters, who were battling three separate blazes.
A fire which started about midday yesterday almost hit crisis point near Judges Road at Swanfels when two properties became threatened.
At the same time another fire which had been burning for a couple of weeks near the Oman Ama store kicked up again, turning into a massive blaze which gutted about 300 hectares of forestry.
Warwick Fire Station officer-in-charge Michael Coombes said two urban crews from Warwick and seven rural fire brigades were on scene at the Swanfels fire yesterday, battling hot windy conditions well into last night.
The fire started near Swan Creek next to Swanfels Road and became serious when it hit the foothills throughout the valley and burnt through about 50 hectares.
About 6pm Mr Coombes said crews were still trying to bring the fire under control which had moved into inaccessible mountain country.
“The rural crews will be here well into the night to mop up the edges,” Mr Coombes said.
“It is not under control yet but we are continuing to back burn. On the other side of the mountains we have already got an existing fire break.
“Crews will monitor the fire for at least the next couple of days. It has been a bad day with the high temperatures.”
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service rural operations area director Inspector Bruce Ehrlich was in charge at the Oman Ama fire and said late last night he was about to leave it in the hands of the Department of Environment and Resource Management.
“They’re doing extensive back burning, it is a very large blaze – probably about 300 hectares has burnt today,” Insp Ehrlich said.
“They believe the fire started by a lightning strike a couple of weeks ago and has taken off today.
“No properties were under threat ... it was probably luck more than good management that brought it under control.”
He said all the water bombers had been stood down across the Southern Downs so were unavailable to battle the blazes yesterday.
Insp Ehrlich said they would monitor weather conditions during the next few days and then decide whether to bring the aerial water bombers back online.
“The weather forecast is supposed to be for hot dry north westerlies but there looks to be a thunderstorm forecast for (this) afternoon,” he said.
Meanwhile, four fire crews were working with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service yesterday afternoon to battle a blaze on Nyora Road at Stonehenge, west of Warwick.
The fire started about 11.15am and a grader had been used to construct fire breaks.
While the mercury hit 36 degrees in Warwick yesterday, Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Bryan Rolstone said the sweltering temperature was still off the November record.
The forecaster, with 25 years experience, said the hot weather was attributed to scorching north-westerly winds.
While yesterday was considered “dry heat”, today Mr Rolstone said there would be moisture in the atmosphere, which is promising news for our fire-fighters on the front.
“There should be reasonable rainfall from the (predicted thunderstorms today) and will vary from 10mm to 40mm,” he said.
“Storms are also predicted for (tomorrow) but not as intense as the trough goes west. Saturday means isolated showers and it’s going to get cooler.”