Thomas Day captured this image of the Stanthorpe fire.
Thomas Day captured this image of the Stanthorpe fire. Contributed

Catastrophic fire conditions could be norm for Granite Belt

THE worst could be yet to come for Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt, with an intense bushfire season predicted for the town.

University of Southern Queensland disaster behaviour researcher Dr Barbara Ryan warned unless rain comes soon there could be catastrophic fire conditions, which residents needed to remain alert to.

"We're really heading for conditions Victoria has had for a long time," Dr Ryan said.

"Unless we get rain, the only way things will go is to catastrophic fire conditions, which is what Victoria saw on Black Saturday. We've only been in catastrophic fire conditions in Queensland once before, in Central Queensland in 2018."

Dr Ryan said if there were catastrophic fire conditions, and there was a fire, it could be unfightable.

"Ember attacks occur further, spotting occurs further and people are caught unaware," she said. "With Black Saturday, it was spotting 30km ahead of the fire."

Dr Ryan said emergency services had been well prepared for the weekend fires.

Water bomber targets Stanthorpe fires: Credit: Troy Harrison
Water bomber targets Stanthorpe fires: Credit: Troy Harrison

"We've known Stanthorpe would be facing a bad fire season since about June, so agencies were keeping a really close eye on them," she said.

"That result is unlike a lot of other incidents, as people we able to be given personal warning that they had to evacuate. Police door knocking, which happened at the weekend, isn't the norm."

Dr Ryan said in a catastrophic level fire those warnings might not occur.

"People need to leave the area before a fire," she said.

"That's why having a bushfire plan is so important.

"Once we get to catastrophic fire conditions, there is no chance once a fire gets between you and safety."

At time of print several large bushfires continued to burn near Stanthorpe. Ballandean residents were forced to evacuate after a fast-moving fire threatened properties near Rees Road and Eukey Road. The Applethorpe fire was still burning within containment lines.

There were also fires at Gatton, Pozieres and Yarranlea.