A state of emergency has been declared in central, eastern Queensland where wildfires have forced residents to flee for their lives, abandoning their homes to the flames.Firefighters in New South Wales and Western Australia are also battling infernos in the bush. In Queensland firefighters were forced to retreat before a wall of fire and smoke after losing control of the blaze they’d been battling for several days. One elderly woman said: It’s the worst fire I have ever seen. I’ve lived here for sixty-eight years.” Another homeowner said: “We’ve been well prepared. We’ve got sprinkler systems and everything, but all you can do is cross your fingers now.” Tinder dry conditions and erratic, powerful winds combined to exacerbate the danger. In communities on the outskirts of the city of Rockhampton near Mount Archer National Park, lines of cars clogged the streets as families made their escape. The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service told residents to “get out while they can” as billowing smoke darkened the setting sun.