Queensland’s West Downs were still dealing with out-of-control bushfires on Tuesday morning as 18 fires continued to burn across the state overnight and an emergency warning remained in place.
Residents in Kowguran, Myall Park and Hookswood, near Miles, were told to leave immediately at 1am on Tuesday, as the fire reached more than 7,400 hectares in size.
Related: Tower fires rage out of control in south-west Queensland as residents try to flee
Aircraft were expected to support ground crews on Tuesday as firefighters continued their efforts to bring the blaze under control.
James Haig, the state operations coordinator at Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, said the fire was still able to move and increase in size until it was contained.
The Tarry community center has opened as a shelter for evacuees from the out-of-control fire in Montrose, which has displaced more than 40 residents since Sunday evening.
The fire in Montrose was 890 hectares in size on Tuesday morning and destroyed more than 20 structures, including several houses and sheds.
Damage assessment teams had completed 92 damage assessments and were continuing to assess damage on Tuesday.
Ergon Energy said power was out around Tara and north of Miles due to the bus fires. Assessing the damage to its network the energy supplier said: “It’s not a pretty picture.”
“We have many poles that are piles of ash and will need to be replaced,” the company said on social media.
A Queensland fire and emergency services spokesman said firefighters were working to establish containment lines in Montrose.
Residents of Fairyland and Burra Burri, near Jandowae, were warned to prepare to leave at 9.20pm on Monday evening and again at 6.20am on Tuesday morning due to an “elevated threat level” and changing conditions.
Danny Teece-Johnson from the Bureau of Meteorology said potential storms had been forecast for the Darling Downs region but synoptic charts showed they were heading for the Eastern Downs, while the fire-affected Western Downs were expected to say “a lot dry”.
“There is still a slight chance of a shower in the West Downs,” Teece-Johnson said. “That might help in terms of reducing the fires but the double-edged sword of that is that we will have some winds in the region, up to 30km/h in the late afternoon.”
He said the heat warning had been canceled although temperatures remained high.
Haig said authorities were not confident the moist conditions would push the coast inland, with the two fires of concern burning hundreds of kilometers away.
The fire danger rating remained high with challenging conditions due to temperatures forecast in the mid 30s through Thursday across much of Queensland, Haig said.
The area, from Gladstone down to the NSW border, and as far west as the Western Darling Downs just short of the Roma, had been without rain for “quite a few months”, Haig said, adding that it was unusual to have significant fires as late in the season as February is usually a wet period.
Queensland fire and emergency services state co-ordinator Brad Commens told ABC News that 18 fires were burning across south-east and south-west Queensland on Monday afternoon.
Commens asked people to be “very, very diligent”. “We still have a very dry area in the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said.
Haig said the daily number of fires “goes up and down a little bit” because authorities are trying an “attack weight” strategy to put out fires as quickly as possible using multiple trucks.
There could be severe thunderstorms in south-east Queensland, with damaging winds and a major blizzard forecast on Tuesday afternoon, covering “a fairly wide area of Bundaberg down to the border”, Teece-Johnson said.