Australia

Strong winds fan Queensland, NSW blazes as fire crews prepare for long fight

The fire near Tenterfield in northern NSW kicks up a cloud of dust. Source: SUPPLIED

NSW firefighters are bracing for another day of strong winds and challenging conditions as they battle two out-of-control blazes in northern NSW.

Another challenging day is ahead for NSW firefighters battling several out of control bushfires and strong winds, while in Queensland fire crews are prepared for severe conditions.

Firefighting efforts will remain focused on out-of-control blazes at Bees Nest in Armidale and Long Gully Road in Drake, east of Tenterfield which are both at watch and act alert level.

Despite cooler weather across NSW, strong and damaging winds of up to 70km/h are expected to ramp up fire activity with very high fire dangers in the state's far north coast, north coast and New England areas.

"The concern will still be those winds today," a NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman said on Sunday.

"They are still firing up the fire danger."

Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter (centre) speaks to the media, detailing the latest fire updates.
Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter (centre) speaks to the media, detailing the latest fire updates.
AAP

The Bees Nest blaze has torched more than 56,000 hectares, twice the size of the Sydney city council area while the Long Gully Road fire has burnt more than 22,000 hectares.

Residents near both fires have been advised to enact their bushfire survival plans and a number of homes have been lost or damaged by fires in the state since Friday.

Almost 70 fires are raging across Queensland, leading to evacuation orders for the border community of Applethorpe and 'prepare to leave' warnings for nearby Stanthorpe and in the Gold Coast hinterland.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services say 11 homes have been lost in Sarabah and Binna Burra, as well as three in the Southern Downs region and one in the far north.

Most of the state is rated a 'very high' fire danger due to gusty winds and dry conditions, which are expected to continue on Sunday.

Stanthorpe is bracing for windy conditions overnight before gusts from the late morning, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Fire and Emergency crews from NSW prepare to join their Queensland counterparts in the ongoing bushfire control effort near the rural town of Canungra.
Fire and Emergency crews from NSW prepare to join their Queensland counterparts in the ongoing bushfire control effort near the rural town of Canungra.
AAP

"We will not have this fire under control before Monday," QFES assistant commissioner Megan Stiffler told a community meeting in Stanthorpe.

"We have days ahead of us and lots of hard work through the night to secure all edges of this fire."

Winds both along the coast and inland are expected to ease back from Tuesday.

A 66-year-old volunteer firefighter was on Friday rushed to hospital after his hands, arm, legs, back, face and airways were burned while he and a colleague fought a fire at Mount Mackenzie Road south of Tenterfield.

Neville Smith is in a critical but stable condition at Royal Brisbane Hospital.

The Insurance Council has also declared a catastrophe for bushfires that have destroyed homes or property in the state's north, giving priority to claims from affected policyholders.

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