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Dozens of bushfires burn out of control in NSW and Queensland as temperatures soar Dozens of bushfires burn out of control in NSW and Queensland as temperatures soar
(about 2 hours later)
Hot and windy weather has created volatile conditions along parts of Australia’s east coastHot and windy weather has created volatile conditions along parts of Australia’s east coast
Parched and windy conditions have created a volatile bushfire situation across drought-stricken New South Wales, the state’s rural fire service says, with two emergency warnings issued for out-of-control blazes in the state’s north. A mayor on NSW’s mid-north coast says bushfires ripping through the region are “horrifying and horrendous beasts” as authorities reveal a number of homes may have been lost.
Queensland is also bracing for extreme fire danger as temperatures soar close to 40C across parts of the south-east, while Perth is expected to reach 40C on Saturday. Parts of the Pacific Highway and several schools have closed amid the unfolding emergency.
The NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, has confirmed two homes have already been damaged or destroyed on the mid-north coast. Residents in parts of Queensland are also on alert as temperatures soar close to 40C across parts of the south-east, while Perth is expected to reach 40C on Saturday.
Emergency warnings, meanwhile, were issued on Friday morning for fires at Gulf Road, Torrington and Hillville Road, Hillville near Taree. MidCoast council mayor David West says he’s anguished as residents brace themselves in the face of volatile fire conditions near Taree, NSW.
“It is a volatile day and it will remain a volatile day,” Fitzsimmons told reporters in Sydney on Friday. “From my personal perspective, it’s horrifying,” he said on Friday afternoon.
“We need vigilance and we need people to be decisive and ready to act in accordance with any direction given by authorities.” “I’ve never felt a sense of anguish that I do now, the fear for my community.”
The fire at Torrington, near Tenterfield, is almost 14,000 hectares in size and is burning to the west of Silent Grove Road as firefighters battle the blaze ahead of worsening conditions predicted later in the day. West said a fire near Forster threatened a council building on Thursday night.
People in the areas of Torrington, Silent Grove, Wolfram Hill, Tungsten, Maids Valley and Mole River are being advised to seek shelter as the fire approaches. “It was literally a wall of yellow, horrible, beastly, tormenting flames,” the mayor said.“It was a horrendous beast.”
The fire at Hillville, on the NSW mid-north coast, is burning on the western side of the Pacific Highway, north of Possum Brush and south of Rainbow Flat, as well as in the Talawahl Nature Reserve. The mayor - who lives in Brimbin - is particularly concerned about an out-of-control fire burning near Hillville south of Taree.
The RFS has advised those in the area of Coates Trail and Road and Possum Brush who plan to leave should leave now and head towards Tuncurry. The NSW Rural Fire Service says that fire has crossed the Pacific Highway and is spreading quickly.
Fitzsimmons said the bushfire danger across the state was “at the upper end of the scale”, with five total fire bans in place for the New England, far north coast, north coast, greater Hunter and northern slopes regions. The highway is closed in both directions between Taree and Bulahdelah. The Pacific Highway is also closed at Port Macquarie between the Oxley Highway and Hastings River Drive.
At 11am, 74 fires were burning around the state, with 33 uncontained despite the best efforts of more than 900 firefighters and support staff. “It (the Hillville fire) moving toward the coast at a fairly rapid rate,” Mr West said. “The area that I live in hasn’t been burned in about 30 years. There’s a huge amount of fuel load.”
Fitzsimmons said bush and grass fires are currently burning through about 370,000ha of NSW land more than the entire land area burnt last year. A number of schools have been closed in the area due to the bushfires.
The escalated fire risk comes after a man aged in his 50s suffered serious burns to his legs and hands while trying to defend his rural property in Yarrowitch, east of Walcha, on Thursday. MidCoast council deputy mayor Claire Pontin - who lives in nearby Hallidays Point - says the area is “tinder dry”.
Dust is also expected to be blown across much of the state’s north-east on Friday, with the central coast and Newcastle areas the worst affected. It is likely clear over the course of the day. “It’s just crispy. In places, you can hear the leaves crunching under your feet.”
Severe heat in Queensland There are eight emergency warnings current in NSW for fires stretching from just north of Forster to west of Tenterfield near the Queensland border. The worst fires are at: Hillville, Crowdy Bay National Park, Tapin Tops National Park, Port Macquarie, Willi Willi, the Mistake State Forest in Nambucca and surrounds, Tyringham and Torrington.
Extreme fire warnings have been issued for parts of Queensland as 28 blazes burn across the state and firefighters prepare for big winds to sweep through tinder-dry areas. RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons earlier on Friday said two homes had been damaged or destroyed in the fire burning at Stockyard Flat near Walcha with assessors yet to reach the site.
The fire danger will peak in the Darling Downs and granite belt on Friday afternoon with temperatures across the south-east expected to soar toward 40C. “It is a volatile day and it will remain a volatile day,” Fitzsimmons told reporters in Sydney.
Forecasters say extreme warnings are in place from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast, inland to Toowoomba and then out towards Dalby, Miles and Goondiwindi. Fitzsimmons said the bushfire danger across the state was “at the upper end of the scale”, with five total fire bans in place for the New England, far north coast, north coast, Greater Hunter and Northern Slopes regions.
Severe warnings have been issued for the area between Gympie and Bundaberg, out to Taroom, Emerald and west to Charleville. Fitzsimmons said bush and grass fires are currently burning through about 370,000 hectares of NSW land - more than the entire land area burnt last year. There are nine ‘watch and act’ alerts in place.Dust is expected to be blown across much of the state’s northeast on Friday with the Central Coast and Newcastle areas the worst affected.
Warnings are also covering Maranoa, Warrego, the Central Highlands and Coalfields, Wide Bay and Burnett regions, and the south-east coast. The fire danger should lessen over the weekend, although threat levels were forecast to rise again on Tuesday or Wednesday next week, Fitzsimmons said.
Authorities are expecting big winds to blow through regions where water is scarce and land has been dried out by drought. Extreme fire warnings in Queensland
A watch and act alert is currently in place for a fire in Clumber, near the border with NSW. Residents are being told to prepare to leave their homes after a bushfire burning southwest of Brisbane split in two. 
Wind gusts of up to 80km/h are expected in the afternoon as a low-pressure trough sweeps across the southeast, the weather bureau says. A ‘watch and act’ alert is currently in place for a fire in Clumber, near the border with NSW, and another for a blaze further north in Thornton. 
The Thornton blaze has split into two separate fires travelling in different directions.
Conditions are challenging because the fire is burning in steep, rugged country. 
Belts of parched land and withered bush across Queensland are raising the risk of bushfire.
Extreme fire warnings are in place from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast, inland to Toowoomba and then out towards Dalby, Miles and Goondiwindi. 
A fire ban is in place residents in the Toowoomba and Southern Downs Regional Council areas.
Another area of concern is Teewah, north of Noosa, where firefighters have contained a fire but warn it could again flare up.
Severe warnings have also been issued for the area between Gympie and Bundaberg, out to Taroom, Emerald and west to Charleville. 
The air is dry, the temperature is hot and strong winds are expected to sweep through areas shrivelled by a lack of rain.
“On top of the current weather, we’ve had stress on the plants, we’ve got a lot of what’s called curing, a lot of the grass is already brown,” Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Superintendent James Haig said. 
Wind gusts of up to 80km/h are expected Friday afternoon as a low-pressure trough sweeps across the southeast.
Brisbane is set to reach a maximum of 37C while Ipswich will sizzle in 39C heat with no chance of rain over the next week.Brisbane is set to reach a maximum of 37C while Ipswich will sizzle in 39C heat with no chance of rain over the next week.
Fires are already burning across Queensland on the Darling Downs near Laidley, and south of Gympie.
Conditions will ease over the weekend.