Cricket ball-sized hail in Queensland
© Edwin Mens
Cricket ball-sized hail fell at the Glass House Mountains.

Hail the size of a cricket ball has been reported north of Brisbane as dangerous thunderstorms move across south-east Queensland, but the storms are unlikely to bring much rain or relief for bushfire-ravaged parts of the state, the Bureau of Meteorologist forecaster Rosa Hoff says.

It comes as an emergency warning was issued for a large out of control bushfire north of Toowoomba with residents told to evacuate.

A severe warning for giant hailstones and destructive winds was issued from Gympie to south of Brisbane. The most dangerous storm was on the Sunshine Coast, where the cricket ball-sized hail was observed.

Hoff said no storms were expected in the Darling Downs area or the Scenic Rim, where concerning bushfires were continuing to burn.

But strong winds had been detected with gusts of 57km/h recorded at Dalby and 50km/h at Stanthorpe.

There would be no widespread significant rainfall in areas affected by the thunderstorm but up to 35mm could fall on the Sunshine Coast, Hoff said. Most areas would record just 5mm to 15mm.

Not far away residents west of Brisbane in the Ravensbourne area were being told to evacuate as a large out of control bushfire bore down.

An emergency warning had been issued for the blaze, which was part of the Pechey fire responsible for blackening 3,400 hectares in the past five days.

The local mayor, Paul Antonio, said the situation had deteriorated drastically despite a large air tanker, which dumps 15,000 litres in one go, joining the fight.

"This is a very difficult situation ... The wind [at my farm] is strong enough to rock my car," he said on Sunday. "It's looking very bleak."

The fire, which was advancing to the north, east and south-east, extended along Perseverance Dam Road, Mount Jockey Road, Horrex Road, Garvey Road, Purtill Road and McQuillan Road.

Antonio said 200 firefighters and 15 aircraft were battling the blaze, along a 38km front.

Across the state, 85 fires were burning but those of most concern were the ones at Pechey, north of Toowoomba, and Moreton Island off Brisbane along with those in the Scenic Rim at Mt Barney, Clumber and Tarome.

Meanwhile, more than 1,500 firefighters were battling blazes from the outskirts of Sydney right up to the Queensland border on Sunday. Firefighters were "doing their best to try and secure as much as they can ahead of those worsening conditions", the NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, said.

On Sunday afternoon there were 56 fires across the state, more than half of which were uncontained, the RFS said.

Fire danger ratings were severe in the far north coast, New England, the northern slopes and north-western regions, and very high in the greater Sydney, greater Hunter, central ranges and north coast regions.

Guardian staff and agencies