22 February, 2024
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Battle to control ‘wild beast’ bushfire continues

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Firefighters are confident they can protect the southern Queensland town of Tara from a ferocious blaze that has already claimed one life.

About 60 fires were burning across Queensland late on Wednesday, with high to extreme fire danger ratings expected for central and southern inland areas in the coming days.

About 350 people have been forced to flee their homes west of Brisbane as firefighters battle an erratic blaze that has burned more than 11,000ha, destroying at least five houses.

Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh said the community had been “knocked around” after police found a body on Tuesday night in the fire-ravaged Tara region.

The blaze has proven difficult to combat due to wind changes, with flames reportedly up to 15m high.

“It’s a bit of a wild beast at the moment,” Mr McVeigh told AAP on Wednesday.

Hundreds of people are sheltering at evacuation centres in Tara, Chinchilla and Dalby.

“It is uncontrolled and I’m not going to mince words here – it’s a dangerous fire,” Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Acting Chief Superintendent Warren Buckley told reporters.

QFES “leave immediately” warnings were in place for Tara and nearby Wieambilla, Kogan, Goranba and Weranga late on Wednesday.

 Emergency services are on alert near the town of Tara, Queensland. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS 

Another fire on the Darling Downs in the southwest has burned about 3000ha, destroyed a house and forced about 50 people into evacuation centres but is expected to be contained by Thursday.

Residents in that area at Millmerran Woods, Cypress Gardens and Millmerran Downs were told they could return to their homes “with caution” late on Wednesday.

Mr Buckley urged residents to heed warnings and remain vigilant.

“The fires at night with the current weather that we’re having are not dying down,” he told reporters.

“They’re actually maintaining intensity and becoming erratic overnight as well, so there will be last-minute messaging.

“We ask people to maintain vigilance around that messaging and take the appropriate action.”

He said the hazardous conditions would continue “until we get some rain”.

Mr McVeigh said power outages caused by the blaze ensured radio was the best way for Western Downs residents to stay informed.

 QFES “leave immediately” warnings are in place for Tara and nearby towns. Image by HANDOUT/QUEENSLAND FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told parliament on Wednesday fast-moving, wind-driven fires were likely for the early hours of Thursday.

“So we need everyone to be alert,” she said.

The Bureau of Meteorology said a southerly change would bring cooler conditions moving through the state’s west later this week, with a chance of rain in the Western Downs by Friday.

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