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Firefighters brace for extreme danger as blazes rage

Extreme fire danger

Firefighters in two states are bracing for extreme dangers on Tuesday, with a nightmare cocktail of hot and windy conditions threatening to flare up bushfires.

An extreme fire danger is forecast for the Darling Downs and Granite Belt area, west of Brisbane, where a deadly blaze continues to threaten houses.

The fire has already claimed one life and destroyed almost 50 houses in the past week, at one stage forcing hundreds to evacuate their homes.

It is one of 80 fires burning in Queensland.

Overall, there have been 900 fires across the state in the past 10 days.

Sydney also faces extreme fire dangers on Tuesday, with warnings encompassing the greater metropolitan area, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, New England, northern slopes and north-western regions.

Late on Monday, firefighters were working to extinguish a bushfire that was burning close to homes south-west of Sydney.

Seven NSW regions face total fire bans amid the forecast of deteriorating conditions.

Under extreme fire danger, people should prepare to protect their life and property, check their bushfire plan and ensure their property is fire ready.

Travel through bushfire risk areas should also be reconsidered.

Warm and dry weather with fresh north-westerly winds is forecast, with potentially severe afternoon and early evening thunderstorms forming along the northern half of the coast and ranges.

Meanwhile overnight Monday, strong winds damaged roofs and blew down trees onto roads and power lines in Sydney’s west.

The NSW State Emergency Service said it had received 162 calls for help since 3am on Tuesday, mostly from Camden, Campbelltown, Liverpool and Penrith.

“Significant damage has been reported with parts of roofs blown off residential and commercial properties, trees falling onto houses and scaffolding falling,” the SES said.

Just before 3am, there were wind gusts of 104km/h at Badgerys Creek, while 98km/h winds were recorded at Camden.

Total fire bans

Total fire bans are in place for 64 of Queensland’s 77 local government areas ahead of Tuesday’s scorcher, with high temperatures and strong winds forecast.

High fire dangers are predicted throughout the state’s west.

The Tara fire has reportedly burned more than 20,000 hectares.

“It’s very critical that people are aware of their circumstances, they are heeding the warning, they have a plan, they know what to do, where to go and who to contact,” QFES Acting Assistant Commissioner Peter Hollier said.

Interstate crews are on their way to help, with 12 fire trucks from Victoria expected.

Incident management teams and air attack supervisors will also join local crews.

Hundreds of people have fled their homes on the Western Downs, with about 300 arriving at evacuation centres at Dalby and Chinchilla.

On Monday, that number was down to 49 as people started to return to their homes.

But some will need alternative accommodation after losing everything in the Tara fire that has reportedly burned more than 20,000 hectares.

Damage assessments have revealed 46 homes have been destroyed.

Western Downs residents were still being told to evacuate with the fire threatening on the northern front late on Monday.

There’s no end in sight yet as the weather shifts in southern Queensland. Photo: QFES

Firefighters late on Monday gained the upper hand on an out-of-control blaze in inaccessible terrain northeast of Tenterfield, NSW.

The 65-hectare bush fire was one of several in the northern Tablelands expected to spread east under westerly winds on Tuesday.

The Glen Innes RSL and Tenterfield Showground has been opened to accommodate locals leaving early ahead of forecast extreme fire danger.

As of Monday night, about 80 bush and grass fires were burning across the state, including a handful out of control.

-with AAP

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