Pechey bushfire being treated as arson, authorities say
A FIRE emergency declaration made across Queensland earlier this month has been partially lifted as conditions improve.
It comes as 70 fires continue to burn across the state, and there are suspicions a fire raging north of Toowoomba was deliberately lit.
Acting Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Mike Wassing said the emergency declaration would be lifted from 36 of 42 local government areas.
"The state of fire emergency declaration now applies only to Toowoomba, Lockyer Valley, Somerset, Ipswich, Southern Downs and Scenic Rim local government areas," Mr Wassing said.
"Significant blazes continue to burn in these areas, and the bushfire risk remains high, which is why the declaration will continue until further notice.
"The declaration has been cancelled in areas where the bushfire danger has fallen."
Meanwhile, a fire that destroyed several homes and sparked a nursing home evacuation is now being treated as arson.
The Pechey bushfire, north of Toowoomba, started last Tuesday and tripled in size at the weekend to about 14,000ha.
On Monday a local nursing home was evacuated as the fire burnt on the outskirts of the Crows Nest township.
A number of homes were also destroyed in the fire, which has taken hold in the dense and difficult terrain of state forests and national parks.
Fire authorities today confirmed they were now treating it as deliberately lit.
But due to conditions and the complex nature of the fire it has yet to be fully investigated by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services or police.
The fire is burning within containment lines, however it is not yet controlled.
Aircraft have spent the day water bombing flare-ups.
Authorities are holding a community meeting at the Crows Nest RSL on Wednesday at 6.30pm.
This morning it was confirmed three more homes had been destroyed in the Pechey blaze, taking the total number of homes lost in recent southeast Queensland fires to 19.
The others include a cluster of fires in the Border Ranges region, from Cunninghams Gap to Mt Barney and Mt Lindesay, and one on Moreton Island.
Fire crews spent Monday and Tuesday strengthening containment lines ahead of today's expected heatwave, in which temperatures were predicted to soar to the mid-to-high 30s near some of the major fires.
About 70 fires were burning across the state today, with no end in sight to the crisis.
There are fears recent fires on the Sunshine Coast which threatened the area around Noosa North Shore may still be burning underground through the tree root systems, and could reignite in the hot and windy weather.
Two teenagers charged over a fire in September that destroyed one home and forced thousands of Sunshine Coast residents to flee were to face a closed-court hearing today.
A 14-year-old Peregian Springs boy and a 15-year-old Coolum Beach girl were charged with endangering particular property by fire, with police alleging they lit the blaze in bushland.
It quickly spread towards Peregian Beach, forcing a mass evacuation.
Eighteen people have been charged with deliberately lighting fires in Queensland since November 9.
Of those, 10 are juveniles who are being dealt with under the Youth Justice Act.