Australia Weather News

There is a long traffic jam on the Warrego Highway following the fire at Marburg. - ABC

A bushfire has caused major traffic problems on a South-East Queensland highway and prompted warnings for residents of a small town to evacuate.

The Warrego Highway has since reopened at Marburg after a grass fire cut the road — the main route between Ipswich and Toowoomba.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) had warned the blaze, which is contained but still smouldering, could threaten the town and urged locals to leave.

That warning was later downgraded to "stay informed", but the highway closure caused a large traffic jam.

There are about 30 fires burning across the state, with a number of communities urged to stay informed in case conditions worsen.

Laidley man describes 'wall of embers' that destroyed house

It comes after a bushfire destroyed one home in nearby Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane, yesterday.

The Laidley and Grandchester fire flared shortly before 3:00pm on Tuesday, with authorities quickly issuing an emergency warning for residents to seek shelter.

It forced the evacuation of more than 120 people, but the warnings were downgraded overnight.

Michael Whatnall lives next door to the house that was destroyed.

"Literally all my back fences have gone … flames were about 20 metres high," he said.

"It's literally come a metre off my back door. I had three pets in my house. When I'd opened my front door, my house was nothing but smoke … there was black soot everywhere."

Mr Whatnall works for local emergency services and was away on a job when he heard reports of the fire.

He said there were 50kph winds when he arrived home.

"It looked like a war zone … we had choppers literally five metres above my roof carrying water, dumping constantly," he said.

"We couldn't see. We had to cover our eyes. It was just nothing but dust and we could feel the heat.

"And all it was, was just a big wall of embers coming towards my house."

He said the fire melted his downpipes but he was able to save his three cats.

"I'm very lucky … I was kind of crying all afternoon. I'm still really emotional, the shock hasn't set in," he said.

"Thank you [fire crews] for saving my house!"

Maree Lewis lives one street over from where the house was destroyed. Her back fence was damaged.

She said she was at work at the time nearby, and could see the fire from a distance.

"I stood there and watched it all come this way, pretty devastating to see it," she said.

"I was stressing out not knowing if our house was still here … I left work and we weren't allowed back in here until last night.

"We're just lucky, very lucky."

Up to another 30 households were evacuated from nearby Lefthand Branch and Thornton, where the severity of the bushfire has been downgraded.

A fire that flared at Carneys Creek, west of Beaudesert, is currently at advice level.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services were also called to battle a grassfire in South Ripley at Ipswich last night, which temporarily closed the Centenary Highway.

The fast-moving blaze broke out just before 7:00pm, with 10 crews called to battle the fire.

It was contained within two hours and posed no threat to property.

Aidan Nosenzo, who lives in Providence in South Ripley, said the fire started burning slowly on their side of the highway, before a wind change escalated the blaze.

"My wife and I took the dog for a walk to see what was going on, and then all of a sudden the wind picked up and changed direction, and the fire just got really hot, really fast and started to move really quickly," he said.

"All of a sudden it just got really bright like it was daytime … it was so intense, like an apocalypse."

Authorities concerned about resources

QFES spokesman Wayne Waltisbuhl said Queensland crews assisting with bushfires in northern New South Wales had to be pulled out ahead of the predicted bad fire weather.

"We needed to keep everyone we possibly could on standby because of what we knew was coming," he said.

Mr Waltisbuhl said if bushfires continued to be as frequent and dangerous as they have been it would likely drain available resources.

"That is a concern for us ... the number of people who are available, particularly volunteers," he said.

"At the moment we are alright but if we get a number of consecutive days of big fires … we will be putting out a request to the national resource centre to get some interstate people up to help us."

Superintendent James Haig said they were still unsure how the Laidley fire started but it was pushed by very strong winds.

"We had very hot weather in that area yesterday, and dry air as well," he said.

"Which means whenever we get these pulses of bad weather, we're going to have this significant fire weather."

He said the fires were a reminder that people need to be prepared with a bushfire survival plan.

"Anybody in those areas would've seen how quickly the fires moved yesterday, we can have that again… perhaps not today but in the coming weeks.

Gabriel Brunescu from the Bureau of Meteorology said conditions would start to ease today, but the fire danger remained very high on the Darling Downs and Granite Belt.

"Especially in the south-east, the fire danger dropped to high, winds dropped as well, and also the temperature dropping today about 10 degrees compared to yesterday," he said.

"And also fire danger dropped in the Darling Downs — just a category down — but still."