Gympie region on high fire alert as triple dry threat looms
WESTERLY winds, low humidity and hotter-than-average maximum temperatures mean Gympie region residents should be on high alert as bushfire season gets under way, local fire officers say.
The Bureau of Meterology forecasts the westerly change will begin alongside a maximum temperature of 27C tomorrow, with a similar pattern to persist for up to four days.
The Rural Fire Service website has no listed fire bans for the Gympie Regional Council area yet, but both the Wide Bay Burnett and Southeast Coast regions are rated as high fire danger areas today and tomorrow, before climbing to "very high" on Friday.
BoM forecaster Kimba Wong said the region was expected to be "very dry through much of the weekend" as a result of the "westerly burst".
"There is an elevated fire danger with warmer temperatures, gusting westerly winds and the low humidity," Ms Wong said.
"Those winds will be caused by a cold front passing through the southern states, and the tail end of it will reach Queensland.
"The forecasted maximum on Thursday is a bit hotter than the (August) average of 23-24C. The humidity on Thursday afternoon will be between 25-30 per cent, which is quite dry, and then down to 10-15 per cent through Friday.
"The winds are going to be quite gusty, and it will stay quite dry until the moisture comes back once the winds turn around from the coast."
Ms Wong says the bureau "definitely recommends" residents keep up to date with online updates through QFES.
QFES Gympie Area Commander Warren Hunter said officers would remain vigilant with the beginning of this year's fire season.
"From August 1 the official fire season starts and runs into October or November, even December," Mr Hunter said.
"We've recently passed through Operation Cool Burn in partnership with the Department of National Parks ... local councils and large property owners to prepare for the coming bushfire season, reduce high fuel loads and hazards.
"At this stage the focus goes from preparation to response.
"Fires can start to develop and spread quickly with these sorts of conditions, and for both Gympie and the Sunshine Coast there is the potential for fast-moving grass fires."
Mr Hunter urged residents to make sure their properties were well-prepared to manage the risk of fires.
"We really rely on local communities to stay up to date with information available on the QFES and Rural Fire Service websites, and make sure they are prepared for fire season," he said.
"Don't leave it until the last minutes, have a look at your structures and how you can be properly prepared.
"We encourage all landowners to take ownership, there is no guarantee that a fire truck can be at every door in the event of a fast-moving grass fire."
Mr Hunter also encouraged residents to stay in touch with QFES social media pages for timely updates.
A QFES spokeswoman added "elevated responses" would be in place over the four-day period, but would be fluid depending on updated forecasts.
Last year's fire season saw the monstrous Woolooga bushfire that ripped through at least 10,000ha of land to the north-west of the region.
Tin Can Bay fire crews were called to a vegetation fire believed to be at a retirement resort residence on Monday night, a Queensland Fire Service spokeswoman confirmed.
A small area of bush was on fire at what was believed to be a Cooloola Waters Retirement Resort property on Toolara Rd. It was put out quickly after it had been reported about 7pm, the QFS spokeswoman said.
Police attended the scene, but a Gympie police officer said they could give no details about the incident.