Body found as fire destroys Queensland homes


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A body has been found in southern Queensland as firefighters battle bushfires that have destroyed five homes.

Police say the body was discovered in the Western Downs on Tuesday following bushfires in the Tara region, west of Brisbane. 

“This is an emerging situation and investigations are ongoing,” a police statement late on Tuesday said.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Residents have been asked to leave their homes at Tara as well as Millmerran Downs and Cypress Gardens.

Hundreds of volunteers and firefighters are battling the blazes, with locals grabbing their own machinery to help emergency services defend their properties.

 Tony Johnstone says waterbombing aircraft help but it’s “troops on the ground” that stop bushfires. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

Earlier on Tuesday, Rural Fire Service Chief Superintendent Tony Johnstone said five houses have been destroyed with another 10 properties under threat.

“We’ll know further about what structures and houses that have actually have been devastated once we get a chance to control the fires,” Mr Johnstone said.

There are 43 blazes being fought by more than 400 volunteers and firefighters across the state, backed by waterbombing aircraft.

About 50 people are in evacuation centres after large, fast-moving fires spread on Tuesday, with conditions expected to get even tougher in the coming days.

An evacuation centre has been set up by Western Downs Regional Council after the Tara fire escalated on Monday night.

Spot fires were advancing 200 metres ahead of the Tara blaze due to strong winds, Mr Johnstone said.

People at Millmerran Woods near Toowoomba have been told it is still not safe to return to their homes.

 There’s no reprieve for Queensland firefighters with hot, dry weather continuing into the weekend. Image by HANDOUT/QUEENSLAND FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES 

Firefighters are on high alert with above average temperatures and increased winds forecast in the coming days.

“We’re expecting that the hot, dry weather is going to continue into the weekend,” Mr Johnstone said.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan said they had extended contracts for waterbombing aircraft beyond the usual late-November finish with a longer fire season expected.

Waterbombing aircraft have already conducted more than 6000 drops.

Mr Johnstone said the waterbombing aircraft helped but it was “troops on the ground” that stopped bushfires.

“We saw it yesterday at Tara where a number of … landholders grabbed their own machinery and started to push in fire breaks and work with …the local brigades to start to work the flanks of the fires,” he said.

Mr Ryan said below average rainfall and “intense” dry conditions had led to the extended fire season.

Mid-week temperatures are forecast to reach up to 42C in the northwest and 40C in the central west.

Extreme fire danger ratings are expected for the state’s Gulf Country, central west, northwest and Channel Country.

However, the Bureau of Meteorology said a southerly change was set to bring cooler conditions through from the state’s west later this week.

Bushfires continue to burn as QFES Commissioner Greg Leach prepares to step down on Friday with Acting Deputy Commissioner Stephen Smith stepping up to replace him until a new chief is appointed.

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