FIRE authorities say bushfire fuel loads in Central Queensland are the thickest in 40 years.
Word of a big bushfire season gathered momentum yesterday, as the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service issued alerts for residents and travellers to be on heightened alert over the next few days.
The service's central region manager for rural operations Brian Smith said conditions were severe in the Channel Country and urged landowners to take immediate steps to ensure fuel reduction burns were extinguished.
"The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted temperatures up to 36 degrees, relative humidity down to about 10% and winds to 50kmh," Superintendent Smith said.
"Residents need to finalise any preparations for their property and if they haven't already, they need to visit the Rural Fire Service website to download a bushfire survival plan," Supt Smith said.
The Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre said there had been widespread vegetation growth as a result of wet weather during the strong La Nina events of 2010 and 2011.
But significant areas of land were not burnt last year and there hadn't been much recent rain - meaning dry, thick fuel loads were ready to roar.
Supt Smith said current fire behaviour wasn't consistent with the moderate weather.
"We had a situation at Alton Downs on the weekend where a property owner was doing a weed clean-up and the fire got away and ended up burning 30 hectares," he said.
"I don't doubt that as we move into the bushfire season we will have some difficult fires to fight," Supt Smith said.
Supt Smith said it would be premature to predict a scenario like 2009, but urged residents not to take any chances.
"Locals across the region say they haven't seen this kind of growth in 30 to 40 years and this is being confirmed by scientists," he said.
HOW TO PREPARE
- Finalise your bushfire survival plan
- Prepare your property
- Visit http://www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au for information