ROCKHAMPTON was declared a disaster zone last night while at least 200 homes at Norman Gardens were placed on high alert of the Mt Archer bushfire.

Conditions eased at 7.30pm, but firefighters urged residents to be ready to evacuate at short notice.

Declaring the area a disaster zone has opened up thousands of dollars in relief funds.

Dozens of recovery firefighters were flown into Rockhampton last night to aid the exhausted local crews.

Sixty firefighters from New South Wales were flown into Central Queensland at 6pm in the largest contingent of firefighters ever deployed across the border.

Half of the relief firefighters will work for one week in Rockhampton and the other half in Bundaberg.

Today firefighters will try again to control the blaze, which has been burning out of control on Mt Archer for a number of days.

Residents whose homes fringe unburnt bushland in Norman Gardens and parts of Frenchville have been told to stay on high alert and prepare to evacuate if the fire threat mounts.

Queensland Fire and Rescue central region assistant commissioner Neil Gallant said the bushfire was expected to reach Norman Gardens between 6pm and midnight.

Fire crews remained on site overnight monitoring the fire despite information last night that the winds had dropped and the threat was easing.

“We've had some winds in the southern part of Rockhampton, now it's the turn for the northern part of Rockhampton to face the firefront,” he said.

“With the strong easterly winds pushing the firefront down from the Mt Archer Park we've been warning people that the fire is not under control.”

Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts announced the activation of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recover fund last night for Rockhampton, Central Highlands, Bundaberg, Maranoa and South Burnett regional council areas.

“Based on the ongoing assessment of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, the state and federal governments have today agreed to treat the fires in these communities as one natural disaster event instead of individually,” Mr Roberts said.

People who believe they are eligible for personal hardship funding should call the Department of Communities on 4938 6996.

Personal hardship grants of $170 per person and up to $780 per family may be available for directly effected residents who have been unable to recover via their own means.

Mr Roberts said this year's fire season loomed as one of the state's worst with 3700 in the past three weeks.

Yesterday afternoon fire crews were called to a blaze in McLaughlin Street near the Glenmore School in North Rockhampton.

The fire was contained at 3pm.

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