Lightning strikes behind five bushfires
LIGHTNING strikes are believed to have been the cause of at least five bushfires burning across the state this evening, including one that forced the evacuation of Cowan Cowan on Moreton Island.
The Sunday Mail understands that fires in the D'aigular Range, Wamuran, Pumicestone, Bribie Island and Moreton Island were all caused by lightning strikes that occurred during severe storms on Saturday afternoon.
There are currently more than 80 fires burning across Queensland.
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Cowan Cowan residents on Moreton Island were on Saturday afternoon ordered to "leave now" as a bushfire raced towards the township.
At 9.15pm the bushfire was burning on the eastern side of the town, travelling in a southerly direction towards Ben Ewa.
Crews were working to strengthen containment lines around the town, with more crews enroute.
But firefighters warned they may not be able to protect every property.
Residents should evacuate in a westerly direction to the beach.
Meteorologist Jonty Hall said there was thunderstorm activity with lightning strikes and very little rain over Moreton Island between 3.30-4.30pm.
"There was lightning over the island in that period," he said.
Residents at Mt Lindesay were earlier told to seek shelter as a life-threatening fire rips through the area.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said at 4.15pm there was a fast-moving fire travelling in an easterly direction towards Hardgrave Rd, Mount Lindesay, where it was expected to have a life-threatening impact on the community.
QFES said residents in the area were in imminent danger and firefighters were unable to prevent the fire advancing.
There are more than 60 blazes still burning across Queensland amid high temperatures and hot, dry westerly winds that will continue this weekend.
At Pechey forest, north of Toowoomba, residents have been told to leave immediately as a fire raced towards Ravensbourne on the Darling Downs.
The Pechey fire has been burning for several days and has flared again as conditions worsen.
At 2.35pm, a fast-moving bushfire was burning in Ravensbourne between Purtill Rd and north of Mount Jockey Rd.
Residents have been told to evacuate in a south westerly direction on Esk Hampton Rd towards Highfield, with an evacuation centre in place at Highfields Recreation Centre.
People with pets can go to the Crows Nest Showgrounds, New England Hwy near Showgrounds Terrace.
The weather bureau says there is no end in sight for Queensland's bushfire crisis with dangerous conditions to continue into next week.
The Darling Downs will bear the brunt of dry, hot winds with extreme fire danger forecast for Sunday making conditions challenging for firefighters. Leave now warnings remain in place on Friday for residents of Woodgate and nearby Kinkuna Waters, south of Bundaberg.
A worrying fire at Thornside, west of Gympie, and an unpredictable fire at Tarome are at 'watch and act'.
The Cobraball fire near Yeppoon in central Queensland continues to concern authorities given the difficult weather conditions expected in coming days. The blaze, which destroyed 15 of the 16 homes lost in Queensland over the past week, is 90 per cent contained but that could change when high winds arrive. Damage assessments are continuing, with QFES saying the number of homes lost could rise.
But QFES assistant commissioner Tony Johnstone says crews have done a remarkable job protecting property.
"It's really hard to say how many houses we've saved but I'd say in excess of 300 or 400," he told ABC radio.
Temperatures near major fire grounds are expected to soar beyond 30C on Friday and into the weekend.
Former QFES commissioner Lee Johnson is among 23 fire and emergency services leaders demanding urgent federal action to phase out fossil fuels that are driving climate change and elevating Australia's bushfire risks.
He says cyclones and floods - not fires - have always been Queensland's primary threats, but that's changing.
"In my 40 years' experience I don't recall ever losing this amount of property at the start of a fire season, and it's not over yet. Something has changed and it's not good," he told ABC radio on Friday.