Firestorm hits close to home

Flam­ing heroes in mov­ing bat­tle to save lives and homes

The Courier-Mail - - FRONT PAGE - GER­ARD COCK­BURN CHRIS CLARKE

FIRE­FIGHT­ERS were stretched to the limit as strong winds, scorch­ing tem­per­a­tures and tin­der-dry con­di­tions fanned flames, dam­ag­ing at least one home and forc­ing thou­sands to evac­u­ate as fires came within kilo­me­tres of Bris­bane city.

FIRE­FIGHT­ERS were stretched to the limit as strong winds, scorch­ing tem­per­a­tures and tin­der-dry con­di­tions fanned flames, dam­aged at least one home and forced thou­sands of peo­ple to evac­u­ate when fires came within kilo­me­tres of Bris­bane’s city cen­tre.

Over the bor­der in NSW, schools were closed and thou­sands were taken out of harm’s way as dozens on bush­fires burned across that state.

Queens­land Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices bat­tled mul­ti­ple blazes stretch­ing from the Gold Coast to the Sun­shine Coast. Last night a fire burn­ing out of con­trol at Cooroibah on the Sun­shine Coast forced au­thor­i­ties to evac­u­ate nearby Te­wantin.

There were re­ports at least one home had been dam­aged.

Fur­ther west in the Sun­shine Coast hin­ter­land, res­i­dents were last night evac­u­ated from Jimna as a fire front bore down on the small town sur­rounded by rugged bush­land.

Res­i­dents were last night shel­ter­ing in nearby Kil­coy hop­ing no homes would be lost.

Even sub­ur­ban Bris­bane wasn’t spared from the fire emer­gency, with a sus­pi­cious blaze threat­en­ing homes in the west­ern sub­urb of The Gap.

Ash­grove Sta­tion Of­fi­cer Antony Flint said The Gap fire blazed for nearly two hours, and at times had fire­fight­ers “stretched to the limit”. He said the fire could have been de­lib­er­ately lit.

The Gap res­i­dents were fight­ing to pro­tect their homes, us­ing gar­den hoses, he said. Lo­cal res­i­dent Jim Par­son­age said he was shocked to see the fire so close to his home on Birkridge Place, hav­ing never seen any­thing like it in the area.

“I could smell smoke, it was very thick smoke, it was a scrub fire and then it just ac­cel­er­ated,” he said. “It was very se­vere, ev­ery­one was out in their yards try­ing to see if it was go­ing to spread.”

A sim­i­lar story also un­folded in Buc­can, south of Bris­bane, where res­i­dents were force to deal with two fire emer­gen­cies yes­ter­day in the space of about three hours. Hun­dreds of res­i­dents were told to leave their prop­er­ties for about two hours while fire­fight­ers dealt with a bush­fire along Buc­can Rd.

At the same time fire­fight­ers and po­lice were called about a kilo­me­tre away to Wil­son Rd where a house fire had been sus­pi­ciously lit.

One res­i­dent on Wil­son Rd de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as “crazy”.

“We’ve got a bush­fire over there and a house fire here and we don’t know whether to evac­u­ate or not,” the res­i­dent said.

Evac­u­a­tion warn­ings were also in place for res­i­dents in the Lock­yer Val­ley, where out-of­con­trol blazes are still burn­ing south of parched Lai­d­ley and Tarome. Lower Beech­mont res­i­dents in the Gold Coast hin­ter­land were also told to evac­u­ate last night.

SMOKE HAZE: Har­ring­ton, on NSW’s mid-north coast, was un­der threat yes­ter­day; and Queens­land fire­fight­ers bat­tle flames near Noosa (in­set). Pic­ture: Kelly-Ann Ooster­beek

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