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Homes lost and firefighter injured as flames rage in Queensland and NSW
Firefighters say at least 17 homes have been lost in Queensland and another six have been destroyed in New South Wales as out of control fires wreak havoc across both states.
Fire authorities have revised the number of homes lost to bushfires in Queensland to 17, with 69 fires currently burning across the sunshine state.
Southern Queensland's bushfire crisis is not over, with a major fire still burning near Sarabah and Binna Burra in the Scenic Rim region, inland from the Gold Coast.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services say 11 homes have been lost in those two areas.
Another seven structures, including three homes, have burnt down further southwest, near the border towns of Stanthorpe and Applethorpe.
One home was lost on Thursday, near Mareeba in far north Queensland.
Early on Friday afternoon, the Beechmont community was braced for the arrival of a blaze described as dangerous and unpredictable.
Authorities also issued a 'prepare to leave' warning for residents at Riverview, between Ipswich and Brisbane.
The fast-moving fire is burning in a southeasterly direction, and fire crews may not be able to protect every property in the area.
The fire that did so much damage in the Stanthorpe and Applethorpe areas is also still burning.
It's active in the area between Arico Lane and Matthews Lane in the north, and Plant Lane in the south and residents remain unable to return home.
Thulimbah, Cottonvale and Dalveen residents have been allowed to go home and the New England Highway is open but may be closed at short notice.
Earlier in the day, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 17 homes had been lost in the Sarabah and Stanthorpe areas.
While temperatures have dropped significantly along with wind speeds, conditions are still gusty and causing headaches for fire crews.
The premier has promised support for families left homeless by the fires.
"We have a number of families at the moment (that) are actually going through some really traumatic times," she told reporters.
"We are in the process of trying to reach those families. We understand they are all safe.
"Our community will pull together and definitely make sure that they get back on their feet."
Hundreds of people spent the night in evacuation centres near the fire grounds. Many have been allowed to return home but with fires still active they may be ordered out again.
So far there has been no loss of life, but one man in his 20s was taken to hospital in a stable condition after collapsing while fighting a fire at a home at Clagiraba on the Gold Coast.
Four people were also rescued on Friday but authorities did not say where.
Residents in fire-ravaged areas have been sharing dramatic photos and videos online, with fast-moving fires on ridgelines turning the sky blood red.
Stanthorpe woman Samantha Wantling has struggled for words to describe what's happened to the landscape.
"It's like an atomic bomb went off," she has told the ABC.
Rural Fire Service spokeswoman Kaye Healing says crews around Canungra are exhausted, with the weather bureau saying winds are still gusting up to 50km/h on that fireground.
"They're fatigued and it's extremely stressful," she told the broadcaster.
"They're members of these communities and they've watched houses burn down and there hasn't been a damn thing they could do about it."
Meanwhile, a volunteer firefighter is critically ill in hospital with serious burns after an out-of-control bushfire destroyed his fire truck in New South Wales.
His hands, arm, legs, back, face and airways were burned on Friday while he and a colleague fought the Mount Mackenzie Road fire, which has burned more than 3500 hectares south of the Tenterfield township.
"Sadly, this injury serves as a sobering reminder about how dangerous the conditions are, and the risks that our firefighters take to protect their communities," the NSW Rural Fire Service said in a statement on Saturday.
The man was stabilised at Tenterfield Hospital before being flown to Brisbane, where he remains in a critical-but-stable condition.
His colleague was not injured but the fire truck they were sheltering in was destroyed.
Emergency warnings are still current for the village of Drake and Bees Nest in NSW, while the threat at Tenterfield, Cobargo and Legume has been downgraded to the watch and act level.
"NSW experienced unprecedented fire conditions for so early in the year, resulting in dangerous conditions for firefighters and the community," the RFS said.