Grave concerns for Southern Downs towns
BUSHFIRES have burned over the Main Range into the Southern Downs, causing grave concerns among rural firefighters.
Breaks are becoming harder to maintain during severe weather conditions, according to Freestone Rural Fire Brigade first officer Alan Payne.
"It's getting drier and drier which is making it harder and harder to control the fires," Mr Payne said.
"Certainly those along the range should be concerned."
The Clumber fire is an extension of the Swanfels fire ignited over a month ago.
"It's an ongoing problem," Mr Payne said.
"You just can't get in there and corner them off because of the rugged country.
"As soon as one burn breaks the fire line and then it goes back all over again, just wandering around the hills only to come out and create trouble."
Southern Downs rural fire brigades are working to push the Clumber fire back up the mountain and away from Tregony and Maryvale.
"If the fire isn't contained, it has the potential to come down through all of the valleys," Mr Payne said.
"But at this stage we have containment lines at Swanfels and we're working on containers up there at Spicers."
Fire hasn't significantly breached the range since 2002 when a blaze pushed into Freestone Valley, Maryvale and Gladfield, according to Mr Payne.
"We have fire breaks and fire trails to make sure that doesn't happen again," he said.
"There are a couple of points all along the range where we can cut the fire off if we have to."
Mr Payne said the brigade was confident the plans they had to protect the towns would be effective in times of crisis, at least "as far as structures go."
Fire typically slows as it moves down the mountain, making it easier for crews to fight, particularly when night falls.
"It travels down the mountain at night which makes it much easier to handle with the cooler air," he said.
Hot and dry winds westerly winds could, however, pose serious danger to the region.
"If the wind turns the fire around it changes the entire game, it's a different kettle of fish," he said.
"Hot, dry winds pushing it up make it a high fire danger and that's certainly very concerning.
"That's what happened over the range and that's why that fire has had such a terrific spread."
Severe fire danger is expected to continue on the Southern Downs for the next four days.
Warnings are in place for Tarome, Mount Alphen and Spicers Peak Lodge.
Residents are advised to consult ruralfire.qld.gov.au