Cruel reality of devastating bushfires

As firefighters remain on high alert across Queensland and northern NSW, the lasting effects these events have on residents is starting to show.

Some of the areas most significantly impacted by this early fire season are also in the throes of drought.

"The drought has brought people right to the edge," Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie told AAP on Saturday.

"And now the bushfire on top of that, for some, it will mean the end of their business.

Psychologist Susie Burke warned the pressure these fires put on already struggling farmers could have catastrophic psychological effects.

"When the flames go away is when the real work begins. That will be an enduring challenge," she said.

"We can't sustain this level of distress and destruction. It's psychologically damaging, it's financially damaging."

"It's enormously stressful to be enduring prolonged drought and going the financial stress and the family stress of it, and then the acute fear of a bushfire threat."

Aftermath of the bushfires at Peregian Beach. Picture: Lachie Millard
Aftermath of the bushfires at Peregian Beach. Picture: Lachie Millard


There are fears the bushfire and cyclone seasons could collide later this year. Picture: John Park/AAP
There are fears the bushfire and cyclone seasons could collide later this year. Picture: John Park/AAP

Queensland residents have also received a fresh warning that bushfire and cyclone seasons could collide later this year.

Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford has predicted climate change could result in a difficult end to 2019 and has appointed a team to make sure volunteers called on in times of disasters can cope with what lies ahead.

He said Queensland Fire and Emergency Services workers are acutely aware of the dangers climate change is throwing at them.

"They know what they are seeing is a heightened fire danger but at the same time we're expecting probably a heightened cyclone season as well so we're getting it from both ends," Mr Crawford told ABC radio on Friday.

"But there are a lot of people in this state and in this country that don't even believe climate change exists."

Mr Crawford is worried about fatigue setting in among volunteers and employers who release them from work during emergencies.

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

"How do we manage that? How do we keep their employers happy, their families happy, and still be able to tap into them?"

Firefighters from Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and New Zealand have been called to Queensland to give local crews a much-needed break.



Around 50 fires are still burning from the state's southern border to Cape York.

However weather conditions like the ones that resulted in hundreds of residents being evacuated earlier in the week are unlikely over the coming days.

Fire crews are taking advantage of the easing conditions to work on putting out the blazes continuing to burn across the state.

Two of the more serious fires are at Sarabah, west of the Gold Coast, and at Peregian on the Sunshine Coast.

Residents in these areas have been told to stay on high alert in case of flare ups.

Authorities have warned the dry conditions mean many of the fires could continue burning for months until the area gets some rainfall.

Bureau of Meteorology's Livio Regano said while conditions don't look too daunting, residents still need to stay vigilant as things can change very quickly.

"Things don't look too bad because the winds aren't terribly strong," he told AAP.

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.

"The whole state is a tinder box. As soon as the wind picks up, somewhere's going to be in trouble."

Temperatures are forecast to increase next week, pushing fire dangers into high and very high conditions.