WORST IN 100 YEARS: Fire season fears for Southern Downs
IT'S the most dangerous fire season the Southern Downs has seen in "well over 100 years", according to fearful rural firefighters.
The region is on high alert this week as more than nine bushfires burn within 20km of local town centres, covering thousands of hectares and threatening homes.
Prolonged drought is to blame for the dangerous conditions, reported First Officer of the Wildash Rural Fire Brigade Paul Maher.
"There's been a long lead up of dry seasons that have lead to almost catastrophic circumstances," Mr Maher said.
Mr Maher said he's spent the last few days with his gaze fastened firmly on the horizon, hyper-vigilant for signs of rising smoke.
"We need to be ready to act," he said.
"The likes of today I'd be fearful we could run against something like they did at Glen Innes.
"It could happen like it did there, though I hope like hell that it doesn't."
Two fires continue to burn through inaccessible land near Top Swanfels Rd, requiring the Freestone Rural Fire Brigade to call for assistance on Monday.
Firefighters found the fire near-impossible to extinguish, according to First officer of the Killarney Rural Fire Brigade Wayne Peterson.
"There's nothing we can do but wait until it comes out into open country," Mr Peterson said.
"Then you have to be ready to fight it and protect the houses.
Mr Peterson predicts the fire will continue for at least another two weeks and said aerial support would be of little use.
"You can douse it from above but without any crews in there it would just kick up the next day," he said.
"It's going to keep going until it rains or runs out of country to burn."
Residents east of the Main Range were advised to prepare for evacuation when fires at Tarome, Mount Alphen, Double Top, Clumber and Moogerah burned unpredictably through similarly dangerous land.
North north-easterly gusts up to 45km/hr pushed fire towards the Cunningham Highway where it is predicted to impact motorists.
Across the border uncontrollable fire ravaged over 2000 hectares of land to the east of Killarney at Woodenbong, while crews struggled to manage smaller fires at Captains Creek and Rivertree.
Mr Maher said if the wind direction changed these fires could make their way to the Southern Downs.
"It's happened plenty of times before," he said.
"Just earlier this year we headed down to Cullendore to stop a fire at the border fence but it skipped over a break and made it into Queensland.
"Once the wind hits and the fire is going it makes its own fire and its own draft and I really wouldn't want to see anything like that today."