Inferno could hit Townsville too, fire chief says
THE hellfire that has wreaked havoc in central Queensland could "easily" be replicated in Townsville.
Thousands were forced to evacuate their homes in Gracemere, near Rockhampton, and homes were destroyed in Mackay on Wednesday.
QFES northern region acting assistant commissioner Michael O'Neill said similar fires could have been burning around the outskirts of Townsville if that weather system had been further north.
"The weather system that the central region is experiencing at the moment could be easily replicated here in Townsville," he said.
"Had it been a little further north those fires could quite easily be burning around the outskirts in Townsville."
Rural Fire Service northern region superintendent Tony Hazell said the potential for those conditions to reoccur was high.
"What's showing is, and this is predominantly climate change, is that things are changing," he said. "I don't think this is a one-off, I think what we're seeing is the potential for this to reoccur."
Townsville residents are being told to remain alert but not alarmed, with multiple government agencies keeping close tabs on fire conditions in the region.
The top brass from Townsville Police, QFES, Townsville Hospital and Health Service and the council gathered on Thursday to remind the community to remain vigilant.
"We are in the middle of extreme fire conditions right across our region, it's important that we put the message out there to ensure the community is well aware of what is going on," Mr O'Neill said. "In the next couple of days we are still going to experience significant heatwaves so we need to make sure that we remain vigilant with preparations."
Townsville Police acting chief superintendent Steve Munro urged residents to check on neighbours, especially the elderly.
"There is no need to be alarmed, but stay alert to changing conditions around the weather event," he said.
"If you are required to make plans to evacuate, listen to the media, listen to the experts and follow those instructions."
The Bureau of Meteorology is expecting the very hot weather to persist through the weekend. Meteorologist Rick Threlfall said a sea breeze was expected today but the temperature would hit about 35C.
He said there may be no respite for Townsville until the end of next week.