More homes have been lost in Queensland in recent days than during the entire 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires.
Blazes in the state’s Western Downs have burnt through thousands of hectares. Crews were unable to save 58 homes in the town of Tara, west of Brisbane.
Bushfire alerts across the state stretch as far north as Cairns, where a fast-moving blaze has forced an emergency evacuation and destroyed two homes.
Crews have spent weeks battling out-of-control blazes across central and southern Queensland.
The body of a man was found near a dam in Tara last month, while a woman suffered a fatal heart attack during evacuations in the area last week.
Strong winds and dry lightning intensified flames this week, forcing evacuations and blackouts in some areas. Residents in parts of the Southern Downs near the NSW border have been told it is too dangerous to return home.
The Queensland Government has established temporary accommodation for evacuated residents. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 50 housing support staff were in Tara.
More than 100 additional firefighters from Victoria, NSW and New Zealand have travelled to Queensland to assist with efforts to contain the blazes.
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast storms for the Western Downs and northern NSW over the weekend. This is expected to bring “much-needed rainfall” to fire-affected areas.
Queensland Acting Fire Commissioner Cameron Harsley said crews were making a “considerable effort” to manage active fires and strengthen containment lines in eased conditions.
There are currently 55 fires burning across NSW. Most are concentrated in the state’s north, including in Byron Bay and the Northern Tablelands region.
Milder conditions have allowed crews to bring blazes in the Tenterfield shire under control today. A “ring of fire” had surrounded the town.
The weather bureau has warned of a chance of smoke haze for towns near the Queensland border.