Two-thirds of Queensland, Australia is expected to be on bushfire watch as temperatures in parts of the state soar above 40C for the fourth day.
Authorities say the fire threat will intensify from the New South Wales border to the edge of the Northern Territory.
Temperatures in Brisbane are forecast to hit 39C today, making it the hottest December day in 11 years, and only marginally below a record of 41C reached in 1981.
The heat has been even more intense in the state's west, with temperatures in Mt Isa and Longreach reaching 43C yesterday - the fourth successive day above 40C.
Controlled fires are burning at Beachmere, north of Brisbane and near Mount Isa, where a Brisbane-based fire crew was sent yesterday.
Queensland Fire and Rescue director of rural operations Peter Varley says severe fire conditions are expected in two-thirds of the state today.
"Any fires that start will be extremely difficult to control," he said. "The farther west, the worse the conditions get."
The weather bureau's senior duty forecaster Michelle Berry said west to northwesterly winds of up to 50 km/h in southeast Queensland would increase the threat of bushfire.
*Brisbane last had 40C-plus December temperatures on Christmas Eve 2001.
*Ipswich and Lockyer Valley forecast to hit 41C today.
*Temperatures of 45C recorded in Birdsville last week.
*Relief expected for western Queensland tomorrow.