Australia

NSW bushfire fighters 'in for long haul' as threat in Queensland also expected to worsen

The sun rises over bushland on the QLD-NSW border, Tuesday, November 12, 2019. Source: AAP

NSW authorities are warning fire conditions could deteriorate as the weekend approaches. Meanwhile, a man has been arrested for suspected arson.

Better weather conditions in NSW have had little effect on aggressive fire behaviour around the state as fatigued firefighters continue to focus on the crisis in the rural north.

About 60 fires continue to burn around NSW on Thursday morning, with 27 uncontained and eight currently at "watch and act" level.

A total fire ban declared for NSW earlier this week has now lapsed.

But Rural Fire Service NSW Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said the passing of Tuesday's "catastrophic" fire warning day had not made battling blazes any easier.

"We had a better day yesterday, only one fire got to emergency warning, but even in these pretty benign conditions we're seeing quite a lot of aggressive fire behaviour simply because it's so dry," Mr Rogers told the Seven Network.

"Conditions starting to warm up tomorrow, into the weekend and then heating up early next week, a return to more gusty conditions. We're in for the long haul."

WA fire warning

A bushfire warning for residents in the Greater Geraldton area of WA has been issued, with people urged to leave or get ready to actively defend their homes.

There is a possible threat to lives and homes as a fire is approaching in the area and conditions are changing, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said early on Thursday.

The 'Watch and Act' alert affects the northern part of Glenfield and southern part of Drummond Cove in Geraldton.

Residents bounded by Glenfield Beach Drive, Hillview Drive, Reef Boulevard and Chapman Road, including 440 Roadhouse in Glenfield and Drummond Cove, have been warned to leave or prepare to actively defend their homes.

Residents were also warned not to attempt to return if they are away from home as conditions in the area could be very dangerous.

Authorities said the fire was contained but not controlled, with the danger of burning embers.

Queensland fires expected to worsen

Firefighters will make the most of a brief weather reprieve to strengthen containment lines as Queensland braces for worsening conditions.

More than 70 fires are burning across the state as firefighters work frantically to contain the risk with the fire threat is set to intensify on Friday.

Moist coastal winds will bring short-lived relief on Thursday before westerly winds dominate conditions the next day.

The weather bureau warns the westerlies will push extremely dry air back towards the coastal fringe.

"We would expect to see the maximum temperature quickly return to four-to-eight degrees above the November average on Friday and into the weekend," a spokeswoman said.

"When we combine that with the dry air, we expect to see elevated fire dangers once again as we head toward the weekend."

On Wednesday, a water-bombing helicopter crashed as it battled bushfires in Queensland’s Darling Downs, west of Brisbane.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson said the helicopters went down off Grapetree Rd about 2pm while carrying out water-bombing operations at Pechey near Toowoomba.

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The pilot suffered "non-life threatening injuries" during the crash and is now being treated by paramedics.

'Leave now' warnings were also issued on Wednesday for the Sunshine Coast, Kilkivan, at Woodgate, south of Bundaberg, and at Pechey.

A large fire was also burning in difficult terrain near the five-star Spicers Peak Lodge on the Southern Downs.

There are several fires west of the Gold Coast, including in the Scenic Rim, and a blaze in Cobraball near Yeppoon in central Queensland continues to be of significant concern.

It has claimed 13 of the 14 houses lost in Queensland since late last week.

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