South Burnett rural inspector Marty Taylor and Kingaroy area commander Mark Long.
South Burnett rural inspector Marty Taylor and Kingaroy area commander Mark Long. Jessica McGrath

Marathon effort from our fireys

THE region's firefighters worked tirelessly at the weekend, putting in 14-hour days to protect South Burnett properties.

With three main bushfires, and several smaller vegetation fires across the region, the area's Queensland Fire and Emergency Services resources were stretched.

Kingaroy Area Commander Mark Long said the crews worked hard to get the fires under control.

"It is big hours, but we try to rotate crews,” Mr Long said.

"It's the volunteers you've got to feel for, with most of them protecting their own properties.”

The Kingaroy bushfire along Curtis Rd quickly escalated from a small fire to one that prompted QFES to send "leave now” warnings on Friday afternoon.

"That's how it escalates - if they see volumes of smoke, crews report it as they approach the site,” Mr Long said.

Firefighter crews were sent to the scene to fight the Kingaroy fire, while more experienced firefighters worked to find out where the fire started and predicted where it could go next.

"Senior managements then determines where the fire will move to, and if it should be upgraded,” Mr Long said.

They then sent word back to QFES to upgrade the fire's status and warn nearby residents.

"It can change rapidly, and it is determined by weather conditions,” Mr Long said.

There are many factors which can increase the risk, including the time it takes for rural crews to get to the scene, which on Friday took them 20 minutes.

"Getting more crews time to get there, also increases the risk,” Mr Long said.

Once two QFES appliances surrounded the houses to protect the properties, the risk and alert level was reduced.

A total of 11 appliances, one helicopter and one council tanker provided support at the Kingaroy fire.

QFES attended to the Teelah fire, near Blackbutt, from noon on Saturday until about 4.30am on Sunday morning.

They returned to Teelah and attended the fire from 6am to 6pm on Sunday.

"Some of those guys work those whole hours,” Mr Long said.

The Teelah fire, near Blackbutt, had 33 QFES appliances and a helicopter working on Saturday, and 27 appliances and a water bomber on Sunday.

Two fixed wing water bombers, helicopter water bombers and one helicopter conducting air observations helped crews on the ground at Teelah.

Sunshine Coast QFES crews were flown in to help at the Teelah fire, before heading back to the Coast to fight a fire near Beerwah.

"It's about getting sufficient resources to the fires,” Mr Long said.

Another 20 appliances were devoted to the Charlestown bushfire along Hoggs Rd, near Wooroolin, on Sunday.

When a fire is first reported, South Burnett residents are urged to be observant of their surroundings and listen to radios and QFES media, as a fire's status can change quickly.

"People need to be conscious, aware and prepared,” Mr Long said.

Residents are encouraged to have their bushfire safety plan prepared, in case they are required to evacuate their homes.

They should also consider if QFES appliances will be able to get around the house to protect it from a fire, as several Teelah properties did not have this level of access.

"Call 000 and report it,” Mr Long said.

"The earlier we can get crews on scene, the quicker we can protect properties around it.”

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