Chopper crashes as locals flee fast-moving blaze
A waterbombing helicopter has crashed to the ground in NSW, while homes were lost in a fast-moving blaze in the Queensland city of Ipswich.
The pilot walked away from the wreckage at Crawford River, north of Newcastle, but other aircraft were grounded as a precaution.
The most worrying fires in NSW are the 'megablaze' in the Hawkesbury, Hunter and Central coast, made up of a number of fires which have joined together.
The Three Mile Creek blaze includes eight separate outbreaks, and is the size of Greater Sydney.
Meanwhile South West of Sydney a blaze continues to threaten homes near Warragamba Dam.
The Green Wattle Creek Fire has devastated buildings and bush.
Many businesses closed as a precaution, while local farmer Roslyn Horchech said the back part of her farm is at risk and she is "tired, very tired".
Waterbombers sucked up loads from farm dams to extinguish spot fires today as calm conditions allowed back burning for a "buffer zone".
A bushfire in 2001 devastated the area.
The fire remains at a Watch and Act level, and crews are hoping for similar weather tomorrow.
However hot and windy conditions will return on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in the Queensland city of Ipswich a shipping container loaded with fireworks exploded and a home was reportedly destroyed by a grass fire.
The fast-moving blaze was sparked by a house fire which spread to the shipping container just after 11am, police say.
The blaze is burning in bushland at Bundamba, west of Brisbane, and travelling in a northerly direction from White Street towards the Warrego Highway.
Firefighters could not confirm the home was destroyed, but police said the structure was fully involved and two people were treated on scene for heat stress and smoke inhalation.
Police declared an emergency situation for the area bound by Keith Street to Bognuda Street and Nelson Street to the Bremer River and Warrego Highway.
Residents within the exclusion zone are being ordered to evacuate as the fire closes in.
People in the area of Bundamba and North Booval, bordered by Bognuda Street to the east, Mary Street to the south, North Station Road to the west and Warrego Highway to the north have been urged to leave now.
The warning includes residents on South Queensborough Parade and the Blue Gum Reserve Area in Karalee.
Fire crews and air support are working to contain the fire but firefighters may not be able to protect every property.
Residents south of the river should head towards Ipswich and residents north of the river should head to the northern side of the Warrego Highway.
"Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing. The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path," the warning states.
Smoke from the blaze has added to the haze across the southeast as a southerly change pushes smoke from the NSW fires into the state.
The southeast corner of the state remains shrouded in smoke, with the World Health Quality index showing unhealthy levels of air quality across parts of Queensland.
"We have seen a southerly change move up from NSW and with it bringing more smoke from the NSW fires," said Rosa Hoff from the Bureau of Meteorology.
Fire danger in the southeast corner continues to trouble authorities as Brisbane swelters in 39C heat with the mercury hitting 40.7C at Amberley near Ipswich.
The hot and dry weather sparking and fanning fires has been unrelenting, but a cool change is expected on Sunday.
"This southerly change means we will see temperatures ease down, however it will still be above average. It is a relief from the severe heatwave conditions, but it still not business as usual.
"Our fire danger ratings will ease back to very high from severe."
Firefighters are pinning their hopes on that cool change for a desperately needed reprieve.
There are more than 40 fires burning across the state, with prepare to leave warnings in place for Esk, north-west of Brisbane, and Cornubia, south of the city.
A conservative estimate of 207,000 hectares of land burnt out since the start of the bushfire season is expected to rise, with 22 - possibly rising to 23 - homes lost.
SMOKE HAZE CONTINUES
Smoke haze continues in Sydney and other parts of NSW.
The number of children and adults with breathing problems have doubled in recent days, according to NSW health bosses.
Face masks and air purifiers are selling out - though most provide little protection against the small particles which can cause long-term health problems.
The south west and north west are worst affected with Bringelly, Camden, Parramatta experiencing the worst air quality levels today.
Children's sports events have been cancelled and Surf Lifesaving NSW has warned beaches could be closed over the coming weeks if visibility gets too bad.