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‘Tinderbox’ Queensland urged to keep alert as homes under attack in NSW

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Queensland remains a “tinderbox” despite favourable bushfire conditions, with Gold Coast hinterland residents on alert while firefighters work to control a blaze.

Firefighters from Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and New Zealand have arrived in Queensland to give weary crews a break after days of fighting fires that have razed homes and bushland.

Meanwhile, on Saturday at 1pm, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service issued an emergency warning for the small community of Drake, as fires continue into a second week.

Residents in the areas of Rover Park and Red Rock have been told it is too late to leave after the fire jumped the Bruxner Highway, warned the RFS via an emergency warning on Saturday afternoon.

People in the area of Drake, Ewingar, Sandy Place, Tilbaroo and areas on the western side of the Clarence River have been told to closely monitor the situation.

The bushfire, which has razed through more than 52,500 hectares, has turned out of control again on Saturday afternoon, according to the RFS.

Fatigue among volunteers is playing on the mind of Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford, who fears what could happen if the emergency that has played out over the past week continues throughout the season.

“What happens if we have a fire season like we had for the last week for the next three to four months?” he said.

Dozens of fires are burning from the state’s southern border to Cape York but weather conditions like those which created multiples infernos leaving residents sleeping in evacuation centres for days are not expected.

“Things don’t look too bad because the winds aren’t terribly strong,” the Bureau of Meteorology’s Livio Regano told AAP on Saturday.

But he warned the state to remain vigilant as the situation can change quickly.

“The situation is now – the way the land is and the vegetation – it only takes the slightest bit of breeze to bring fire dangers to very high, or even extreme,” Mr Regano said.

“The whole state is a tinderbox. As soon as the wind picks up, somewhere’s going to be in trouble.”

Higher temperatures are forecast for next week and officials have warned fires could burn for months because the ground is bone-dry and there is no rain in sight.

Two of the more serious fires are at Sarabah, west of the Gold Coast, and at Peregian on the Sunshine Coast, where authorities have told people to remain alert in case they flare up.

Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen, whose region in the Gold Coast hinterland has been battling fires for more than a week, said Saturday is being spent preparing for more difficult conditions.

“Everything is focused today on containment in preparation for wind shift tomorrow, which is likely to cause some pressure points,” he said.

“But the risks to habitations have declined significantly.

“While there’s a lot of smoke still in the valley, causing uncertainty, the fire fronts in close proximity south of Canungra are inside containment lines.”

Local firefights who had Friday off after being relieved by interstate colleagues will resume their work over the weekend, Mr Christensen said.

Firefighters in northern NSW were working around the clock over the weekend to strengthen containment lines as “challenging” conditions are forecast for the days ahead.

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