Fire heroes’ tales of bravery

 

THEY are the men and women who went face-to-face with a 30m wall of flames and lived to tell the tale.

Firefighters across Queensland have been praised for their bravery amid conditions that some say the region has never seen before.

Off Texas Rd in Stanthorpe, fire had surrounded one property. All seemed lost but for the bravery of firefighters who assisted a husband and wife.

"The flames were 30m high and we saw it coming over the hill," the homeowner, who did not want to be named, said. "When we turned around the shed was fully alight. There were embers raining down on the roof."

Relief crew from Cabarlah volunteer rural firefighters Byran Brown and Rob Morris mopping up after a fire narrowly missed a dwelling near Stanthorpe. Picture: David Martinelli
Relief crew from Cabarlah volunteer rural firefighters Byran Brown and Rob Morris mopping up after a fire narrowly missed a dwelling near Stanthorpe. Picture: David Martinelli

 

Rural firefighter Byron Brown was also full of praise for colleagues. He said crews did incredible work in conditions over the past two days that "weren't too crash hot".

"The guys in the last couple of days have done really, really well. Hats off to them, I say," Mr Brown said.

"If you head into Stanthorpe itself, you can see this has gone right into town. There's a couple of houses around where the shed and the grass around them is burnt but the houses are fine."

Blazes continued to loom over Stanthorpe and Applethorpe yesterday but temperatures as low as zero overnight helped, officials say.

Containment lines were able to be established around the estimated 6000 hectare fire, but the unpredictability of the ice cold wind has the town on tenterhooks.

"Today they're trying to control it. We'll do some backburning and try and keep it under control now so it doesn't go back through town," Mr Brown said.

In total, 73 active fires were last night burning across Queensland, with as many as 650 firefighters at work across the state.

QFES Assistant Commissioner Kevin Walsh said firefighters had responded heroically as they banded together to face the unprecedented catastrophic conditions.

"I've never seen conditions like it and having firefighters standing in line to try and protect those properties was a very impressive thing to see," he said.

Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen praised the community response as tales emerged of residents moving deeper into remote areas to help their neighbours as the fires raged down the sharp ridges around Beechmont and Sarabah in the Gold Coast hinterland.

"Some people couldn't leave without their livestock so getting their livestock out was a really important support to get (those people) to come out safely," he said.

"These are the types of behaviours that show the full understanding and compassion of people living in a rural setting."