Residents risk their lives to fight grassfire
UPDATE: Bushfire season came frighteningly close to Gowrie Mountain resident Tony Murray's home when a spark spread quickly from a nearby highway.
Mr Murray and his neighbours Steve and Sue Cummings risked their safety shortly after midday today to fight a grassfire which was propelled by wind from the Warrego Hwy towards their homes.
They focussed their attention on a fire which flared up near the intersection of the highway and Jannuschs Rd.
The fire was one of a number of blazes that burned simultaneously along the southern edge of the highway between Charlton and Gowrie Mountain.
"I was sitting down having some lunch and I saw smoke coming out of the corner," Mr Cummings said.
"The first thing I did was get my little water sprayer."
Mr Cummings rushed over to a vacant block of land beside Mr Murray's horse paddock to start fighting the fire in long, dry grass.
He could also see a separate fire burning on the other side of his house.
"As soon as I saw the second fire I knew it was going to be too big for me."
"It went in spurts as the wind changed.
"Just as soon as you thought you had it under control the wind got up and it changed again."
Mr Murray had launched into action after hearing the crackle of the fire from his home.
His first reaction was to get his garden hose set up before he decided to jump in his Bobcat to try to dig a fire break.
Flames licked the side of the earthmover as he worked.
"It drips diesel so I was worried about it going up in flames," Mr Murray said.
Firefighters arrived to protect Mr Murray's home before extinguishing the long grass.
The blaze came within 20 metres of the home.
Mr Murray was glad he had slashed the long grass in a paddock in front of his home only three weeks ago.
The residents emerged unscathed, apart from a section of Mr Cummings' hair being singed.
Toowoomba firefighter Kerry Weir said crews had been attending to fires on the highway when they were notified of the threat to Mr Murray's property.
"It is a timely reminder to people to keep their property boundaries clear of grass and undergrowth," Mr Weir said.
Meanwhile, fire crews were back burning yesterday afternoon around a grassfire which had been burning since Sunday at Condamine Farms, south west of Millmerran.
The Bureau of Meteorology this afternoon issued a severe fire danger warning for areas of the Darling Downs and Granite Belt southwest of Millmerran.
The warning also extended to the Channel Country district south of Bedourie as well as the Maranoa and Warrego district south of Charleville.
Temperatures up to 32 degrees, low humidity and winds to about 40kmh were expected.
Tomorrow's fire danger for Toowoomba and surrounding areas is expected to be moderate to high.
EARLIER: THE eastern-most grass fire at Charlton has flared up again.
Additional fire crews are currently responding to the fire.
2.20PM: A GOWRIE Mountain resident's home has been spared after a grass fire came within 20 metres of its walls.
Fire crews were called to the multiple fires along the southern edge of the Warrego Hwy between Charlton and Gowrie Mountain shortly after midday.
The largest of the blazes crossed through paddocks to threaten a home near the intersection of the highway and Jannuschs Rd.
Blustery winds and long dry grass gave the residents and firefighters plenty to contend with.
However, they were able to stop the fire from damaging property.
Rural firefighters continued to dampen down the patches of burned grass this afternoon.
1.15PM: TWO homes are under threat as firefighter battle a number of blazes in Charlton.
Fires are burning next to the Warrego Hwy, with one paddock with livestock and a number of fences under threat.
Four urban fire crews, four rural fire crews and a senior officer are on the scene, and are also tackling a number of smaller grass fires in the area.
A short time ago, the urban fire crews "urgently" called for the support from the rural fire crews.