QLD And NSW Burn: Over 100 Fires, With 'Relentless' Conditions Ahead
Multiple fast-moving fires have erupted across NSW, QLD and now WA, in an "unprecedented" emergency as firefighters warn conditions will only get worse.
As of 11:30pm on Friday, 13 emergency warnings are in place and five blazes are at 'watch and act' precaution level in northern New South Wales -- a situation Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons called "unchartered territory".
More than 1,000 firefighters are fighting 85 fires across the state, with 49 of them uncontained, the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS).
There are reports home have been lost and people are potentially trapped in their homes.
"We are getting reports already of multiple community areas being impacted, loss, damage and destruction," Fitzsimmons said.
"There are some preliminary reports of injuries that have still got to be validated and some minor injuries to firefighters."
One emergency warning is also still in place in QLD after a second was downgraded on Friday evening.
Another four fires in the state are at 'watch and act' level, with police earlier evacuating the entire suburb of Tewantin on the Sunshine Coast.
In WA, one emergency warning is in place for a bushfire in the small town of Regans Ford, about 100 km north of Perth.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) urged residents to 'leave now' if their path is clear or to take shelter in their homes.
New South Wales
The NSW Rural Fire Service has issued severe warnings for blazes mostly across the state's north coast and northern NSW.
The affected areas include Tenterfield, Armidale, Clarence Valley, Port Macquarie, Nambucca, Kempsey and Mid-Coast areas, with up to 15 fires at emergency level.
Fitzsimmons said the conditions were "dynamic" and "very volatile".
"Unfortunately we are in uncharted territory this afternoon -- we've never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level," Fitzsimmons told ABC TV.
He said there would be "relentless" winds into the evening with conditions a little better on Saturday before worsening conditions return early next week.
Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said at-risk residents need to be ready to act.
"Once a fire gets to an emergency alert level we may not be able to get to help you," Baxter said. "We haven't got the resources to be able to put into every single area so you must be prepared to survive yourself."
On Friday afternoon, the RFS said some of the fires on the state's north coast are "creating their own weather conditions" and that pyrocumulous clouds are developing.
"These are extremely dangerous. Do not be caught in the open," the RFS tweeted.
By 5pm, smoke from the fires on the state's north coast reached Lord Howe Island.
The New England Highway is closed due to fire activity between Glen Innes and Tenterfield. The Pacific Highway is closed between Bulahdelah and Taree, as is the Gwydir Highway between Bald Nob and Grafton, and the Oxley Highway between Bago and Walcha.
Residents across northern NSW have left their properties and fear their houses could soon be destroyed by vicious fires.
Lola Hogan, 29, told 10 daily she is terrified she could lose her Port Macquarie home after she fled the property, fearing her life.
"There have been a lot of sirens and helicopters flying around. My neighbours and I decided to leave because it was hard to breathe. There is ash and the town is covered in a red haze. We're losing our voices and coughing," Hogan said.
"We don't know what's happening. There's a few warnings but if I was an older person I'm not sure I would know much about it at all."
Laura Begbie from Lighthouse Beach in Port Macquarie, said she is kilometres away from the out-of-control fires at Lake Cathie and Crowdy Head but the smoke is still incredibly thick.
"You can feel ash dropping from the sky. It's incredibly eerie here, and it's almost pitch black. It's the middle of the day, but I still have every light in in the house," Begbie said.
"The smoke has left me feeling quite ill and exhausted, but I'm mostly concerned about my friends who live closer to the fires."
People are fleeing from the path of raging bushfires in Queensland with at least one currently at emergency level, as others burn across the state.
Police have declared an emergency at Cooroibah, on the Sunshine Coast, where they were evacuating people as a fire threatened homes.
Residents across the entire suburb of Tewantin were instructed to 'leave immediately' due to an imminent threat to homes.
At 10:45pm, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) said the fire is travelling in a southerly direction towards Tewantin and Noosa North Shore.
"All persons north of Cooroy Noosa Road between McKinnon Drive and Tinbeerwah Road, including Noosa Banks, are asked to leave immediately," QFES said.
Conditions are very dangerous and the QFES warned crews may be unable to stop the blaze advancing towards the community.
The fire in the area "may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path", with authorities warning that power, water and phone reception could be cut off.
People in the path of a large, unpredictable and fast-moving bushfire at Tarome in the Scenic Rim area were also told they were in danger and should leave before it's too late.
At 3pm, the QFES warned residents to 'leave immediately', as the blaze moved towards the area.
Locals in the town of Jimna in the Somerset Region were also told to leave immediately at 6:45pm after a watch and act alert was issued for a worsening, fast-moving fire approaching from the west.
Residents in Thornton, Clumber, Noosa Banks, Lower Beechmont, Laidley Creek West and Mulgowie were told to prepare to leave.
Residents at Buccan, south of Brisbane, were also urged to prepare to leave on Friday before fire crews got finally got the upper hand and contained the blaze.
The Thornton blaze in the Lockyer Valley region has split into two separate fires that are travelling in different directions.
Conditions are challenging because the fire is burning in steep, rugged country.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has released a statement on Twitter saying he is being kept up to date on the unfolding emergencies and is ready to provide assistance where necessary.
"Incredibly concerning there are a large number of bushfires burning at emergency levels in NSW & Qld," Morrison said.
"Please stay safe & listen to emergency services."
On Friday evening, Fitzsimmons said conditions were expected to improve over the weekend in NSW but worsen again early next week.
If your life is at risk call 000.
Bushfire Information Line: 1800 679 737
Public Information and Inquiry Centre: 1800 227 228
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