OUT OF THE FLAMES
EVACUATED RESIDENTS STEP BACK INTO A DISASTER ZONE
IT WAS a moment that seemed to take forever to come. At 9.55am yesterday, residents of bushfire-ravaged Peregian were allowed to return to their homes. Emotions were strained as the harsh reality of the past 48 hours hit home. But for many came relief with the realisation their homes had escaped without damage. Pam Murphy (pictured), who owned the only house completely destroyed by the fire, said she was taking the whole episode in her stride. When the fire came to the doorstep of Ms Murphy’s home of 40 years, it came quick. “I knew the fire was coming but I could see no flames, nothing whatsoever,” she said. “And then, five minutes later I looked out and flames were leaping all up my garden ... god it was quick.”
FIREFIGHTERS are breathing easier after a 48-hour battle to save the northern Sunshine Coast brought the Peregian blaze under control inside containment lines.
Shaun Toohey, the operations officer at the Peregian Springs fire control centre, said the fire was now contained and largely extinguished.
But as was the case with the Coolum fire two years ago, he said hot spots would continue to put smoke in the air for some time.
“In the coming days we won’t take the foot off,” Mr Toohey said.
He said there would be a heavy police, firefighter and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service presence in the area.
Evacuation orders have been lifted for all areas allowing families to return to their homes.
In total 364ha have been burnt bordered by David Low Way, Woodland Drive, Murdering Creek Rd, Peregian Breeze Blvd and Old Emu Mountain Rd.
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a very high fire danger rating for tomorrow after what should be a coolish day today with light winds.
However, the 27C maximum temperature and developing east to southeast winds at 15-25km/h are expected to then ease into benign conditions on the weekend.
Mr Toohey said a lot of work was done on the fire ground’s northwest flank on Tuesday with a huge effort by firefighters along the Murdering Creek Rd and Woodlands Drive containment lines to stop spot fires breaking out.
Yesterday choppers continued dampening down hot spots to allow fire crews to get in with additional water.
In total 200 vehicles and 850 personnel were engaged in the firefight that started just before 5pm on Monday.
Mr Toohey said Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and rural crews from Brisbane in the south to Hervey Bay in the north were brought in to assist.
They were there to ensure local crews weren’t over utilised and could maintain their capacity to deal with other fires that could break out across the region.
Four McDermott Aviation helicopters teamed with one from Becker Aviation and another from Air T&G in Ballina to drop 37,500 litres of water every 10 minutes on the fire ground on Tuesday.
Water was drawn from a private dam near the fire front and Peregian Springs Golf Course to maintain the rate of delivery.
FIGHTING BACK: Peregian locals watch (inset) as a waterbombing helicopter reloads. TOP RIGHT: New recruits arrive yesterday to fight the bushfire. BOTTOM RIGHT: The exteme of the fire’s devastation captured from above.