GOLD COAST BULLETIN Saturday, October 16, 2004
AS many as 360 schoolchildren were evacuated from their classrooms at Ocean Shores while flames came within metres of rural homes.
Firefighters were backburning to keep the Ocean Shores blaze within containment lines, and they remained confident the fire would not pose any threat to
property or houses unless there was a drastic change in weather.
A fire at Cabarita, which briefly had homeowners in a nervous sweat, was being held and was unlikely to cause more damage.
The Ocean Shores fire flared late on the previous Thursday night, igniting near a peat fire that had been slowly burning for several weeks in the Billinudgel Nature Reserve.
Billowing black smoke could be seen for kilometres as five fire helicopters bombarded the flames with thousands of litres of water.
The fire initially raced across dry bushland towards Ocean Shores, prompting the local primary school to be evacuated.
Principal Ken Bushell paid tribute to the schoolchildren, some as young as five, for the way they handled it.
“The kids were very calm and collected,” he said.
“We have evacuated for floods before but this was the first time because of a fire.”