CAMPFIRE BLAZE: Fire broke out in a Leyburn camp site, destroying a ute, camper trailer, three tents and a gazebo.
CAMPFIRE BLAZE: Fire broke out in a Leyburn camp site, destroying a ute, camper trailer, three tents and a gazebo. Tara Miko

Campsite inferno, bushfires sparks urgent fire warning

THE fire season was off to a blazing start this weekend as Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews were called to a range of fires across the Darling Downs and Granite Belt.

One blaze covered an estimated 40 hectares and forced emergency services to close the New England Highway about 30km north of Crows Nest due to thick smoke.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews received multiple calls to the fire about 2pm Saturday and police closed the highway by 2.40pm due to visibility concerns with the thick smoke.

Fire had broken out on both sides of the highway, putting homes and sheds under threat.

Later that night a high volume of calls came in about fire breaking out in a Leyburn camp site.

Leyburn Police were patrolling the site when the fire broke out.

It was believed to have started when embers from a fire drum blew onto a nearby tent.

The blaze quickly spread in the windy conditions, destroying a ute, camper trailer, three tents and a gazebo.

Another grass fire broke out yesterday afternoon in Stanthorpe, so Rural Fire Brigade crews rushed to yet another blaze.

Rural Fire Brigade South-West Regional Manager Tony Johnstone said conditions were ripe for a very hectic fire season and residents should be very careful.

"It has been a very dry winter and, as people know, when you have a dry winter you end up with an early fire season," he said.

"The conditions we've had over the weekend have been very dry and windy.

"It's the wind and the dryness that actually causes it and probably some people haven't been aware because it's cooler.

"People think if it's cooler, nothing is going to happen."

He said in addition to the major fires, crews were also called to fires caused by mowing and even a motorbike crash near Warwick.

The rider was blown from the bike by a gust of wind and the exhaust caused a small grass fire to break out.

Mr Johnstone said grass fires in conditions like the current ones were known to spread incredibly fast.

He said there were also a number of camp fires that spread and fires that started on farms in fire piles thought to have been out for a month or more.

"[Farmers] have burned off before the season started a month ago, but with the wind a spark or two and it can get out of control, so people need to go back and check old fires," he said.

"People can also make sure their vehicles are in good order and clean because people can be driving a tractor with a burning hot exhaust and the grass is just exceptionally dry for this time of year."

He said graziers were holding onto their grass due to the forecast of a dry summer and that added to the danger.

He also warned people to call 000 rather than calling the local brigade to ensure a prompt response.

The more information people could provide, the better, including the exact location and even the colour of the smoke.