FIREFIGHTERS are on high alert as temperatures soar into the low-to-mid 30s across much of the Gold Coast.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the mercury maxed out at an official 28.5 degrees Celcius at the Gold Coast Seaway (The Spit) at 12.10pm.
However, the further away from the beach you go, the hotter it appears to get. Residents from suburbs right across the Coast have reported temperatures on their thermometers reaching as high as 35 degrees as late as 4pm.
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Elsewhere, the mercury hit an official top of 33.1 degrees in Brisbane – it was still an official 31 degrees.
That’s hotter than the average maximum temperature recorded in Darwin during the dry season and hotter than our own average maximum temperature usually recorded in the middle of summer.
The blast of unseasonably hot weather will abate from tomorrow, however, with more comfortable winter-like maximums of 25 degrees forecast for Surfers Paradise.of 21 degrees
Top temps are then tipped to drop to as low as 21 degrees right across the Gold Coast over the weekend.
In the meantime, residents are being urged to be extra vigilant, with very high fire danger levels expected.
At 4pm, there were two fires of concern burning west of Brisbane; 17 fire trucks are either on the scene or making their way to a fire at Coominya, while six trucks are battling a blaze near Cullen Road at Ravensbourne.
Rural Fire Service (RFS) Director of Operations Gary McCormack said areas affected by flooding as a result of ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, and more recently frosts, were most at risk of a fire breaking out.
“Our firefighters are prepared and ready, but we also need the community to take extra care and be alert in coming days as warm temperatures combined with low humidity create dangerous fire conditions,” Mr McCormack said.
“There is a lot of vegetation out there, particularly in those areas that were affected by flooding as a result of ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
“On top of this, recent severe frosts, particularly in the Scenic Rim, have dried out grasslands significantly.
“Under these conditions, unattended or mismanaged fires may create sparks and cause fires to spread quickly, so we’re asking people to be on the lookout and report any vegetation fires to Triple Zero (000) immediately.”
Mr McCormack said landowners planning to light fires to reduce fuel loads on their properties must first contact their local fire warden to obtain a permit.
“Under heightened fire conditions, it only takes one unauthorised burn to get out of hand to threaten lives and properties,” he said.
“The Permit to Light Fire system is in place to ensure burns are conducted during appropriate weather conditions and managed safely.
“A permit will detail when a burn can take place to ensure it is conducted in the right conditions, while permit holders must also notify their neighbours and the first officer of their local RFS brigade before lighting a fire.
“Tough penalties apply for people who light fires without a permit. Anyone ignoring correct procedures is endangering themselves, their neighbours and properties.”
With the potential for increased fire activity, Mr McCormack said it was crucial residents prepared their homes and properties now.
“If they haven’t already, I urge people to finalise their preparations and visit the RFS website to download a Bushfire Survival Plan so that no-one is caught off guard,” he said.
For more information on bushfire season preparation, local fire wardens, or Bushfire Survival Plans, visitwww.ruralfire.qld.gov.au.