Queensland Rural Fire Service regional manager Superintendent Alan Gillespie (centre), with Mt Forbes Rural Fire Brigade members Jason Gillett (left) and Peter Ackerley.
Queensland Rural Fire Service regional manager Superintendent Alan Gillespie (centre), with Mt Forbes Rural Fire Brigade members Jason Gillett (left) and Peter Ackerley. Andrew Korner

Ipswich a 'powder keg' ready to go up: Rural fire boss

NORTH-WESTERLY winds howling in at more than 65kmh, combined with "unprecedented” lack of moisture in the ground, have prompted a hightened state of alert among the region's rural firefighters this morning.

Rural Fire Service regional manager Alan Gillespie said a combination of fixed wing aircraft and choppers were on standby at airfields circling the region, as crews braced themselves for what could be a volatile week for bushfires.

A total fire ban is in place, with fire authorities likely to extend it through to Thursday, given the current forecast.

"We are expecting wind gusts up to 65kmh today,” Mr Gillespie said.

"It is also very dry. The fuel moisture is 12 per cent, which means any fire that starts today will burn through the night and into tomorrow.

"It really is unprecedented. Anywhere from Ipswich to Boonah and the west of the range is a powder keg ready to go up.”

The current drought index at Amberley is above 150 - also extremely high and another major concern for firefighters.

It has prompted a warning from Mr Gillespie for rural property owners to be especially careful if operating machinery or power tools out in the open this week.

He warned that one spark would be all that is needed to start a potentially disastrous fire.

Aircraft are on standby at Archerfield, Toogoolawah and Toowoomba airfields today, in case crews require assistance from above.

"We have had to rely less on choppers because they pull water from dams, and there is not a lot of water in the dams at the moment,” Mr Gillespie said.

The weather bureau is expecting the winds to peak about 3pm this afternoon.