Is it just me or is everyone better at baking cakes than fighting fires?
This week the Sunshine Coast witnessed a miracle.
On Monday afternoon a fire started in bushland behind Peregian Springs. Witnesses say it went from zero to inferno in minutes.
Acting Area Director of the Rural Fire Service Queensland (RFSQ) Phil Williams told me it was terrifying, even for veterans, ‘Because of the dry conditions the sparks were taking off and running before you could blink and the winds were awful, they were carrying the sparks such a long way. It just took off.’
The fire burned 850 hectares of land right up to the fence line of at least four suburbs.
A combined effort by fire services, police, SES and Parks and Wildlife saved all but one home.
The firies I have spoken to all say, ‘We were just doing our job,’ and then point to RFSQ, the army of volunteer fire fighters who were called from their day jobs to face the wildfire.
Tim O’Shea has been a volunteer with the Glasshouse Mountains RFSQ for three years, his family home backs on to the forestry at Beerburrum. Tim says his community still bears the scars of the ‘94 fires and that’s why he joined the service.
For six days this week Tim, who usually works behind a desk in the public service, was at the fire front shoulder to shoulder with two Glasshouse Mountains farmers in Appliance 51.
The Peregian fires might have been out of their district but he knows his northern comrades will return the favour, possibly before the year is out.
RFSQ meets once a month for training, in winter they take part in controlled burns once a week and during fire season they work when they’re needed. For most of the RFSQ fighting fires means giving up paid work.
Tim loves being a volunteer firefighter. He says the training and appliances they receive are first class. At Glasshouse Mountains he works with 25 year veterans of the service who say in the old days volunteers were fighting fires with a wet sack and a shovel, probably in their own ute with a 44-gallon drum of water.
Tim was back behind his desk pushing a pen for state government yesterday and admits acknowledgement from the public means a lot.
On Tuesday afternoon as they drove along Murdering Creek Road, where displaced people lined the shoulder waiting for news of their homes, Tim says the waves and toots put tears in his eyes as he turned the truck toward the blaze.
He says meals from the Salvos and homemade cakes dropped to the command post fill the spot like nothing else. Fighting fires can be hot and scary but feeling appreciated warms the heart.
We launched a fundraiser for the RFSQ, for more information or to donate click here