Hot, dry and windy: a recipe for disaster
GYMPIE and neighbouring regions face serious and worsening fire danger as the dry season keeps getting drier and a long, hot summer moves in.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services regional inspector Konrad Sawczynski oversees a big and increasingly dangerous territory stretching from the Burrum River to south of Traveston and west into the Mary Valley.
Insp Sawczynski said it was already too late for many landowners to perform hazard reduction burns.
But he said it wasn't too late to clean up properties, including removing combustible material from roofs and guttering.
Trimming and removal of excess growth from gardens was also sensible.
"Most fire wardens have stopped writing permits for hazard reduction burns,” he said.
"We don't want people lighting unauthorised fires and the consequences can be very serious.
"Currently we are seeing a drought index of about 160 on a scale out of 200, and that tells us it is extremely dry.
"Some areas in Gympie are experiencing winds up to 25 or 30kmh and gusts can reach 35kmh.
"Soil dryness is at record levels and that spells a dangerous season,” he said.
Weather conditions were likely to make any wildfire much more dangerous.
"The long-range forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology says it is similar to last year, which means we do not expect a lot of rain,” Insp Sawczynski said.
"Gympie has had some rain but no more than a couple of millimetres, if that.
"We need falls of more than that. We need 15 to 30cm of rain if we are to have a substantial improvement.”
Meanwhile, the dry weather that has begun to bite into many farm irrigation supplies may soon also make urgent firefighting water harder to obtain for rural firies.
This week's conditions are a continuation of Queensland's hottest winter on record, according to the bureau. Gympie's mean daily maximum temperature was reported at 24.3 degrees, nearly two degrees above average for the season.
Rainfall was also well below average, with BoM rainfall mapping for the three months ending August31 showing a "serious deficiency”.
Although not the lowest on record, some Gympie region centres recorded their lowest rainfall in decades.
Gympie yesterday reached 28.1 degrees at 2.51pm and winds gusting to 32kmh.
The bureau predicts similar conditions for the rest of the week.