Beyond the firing line: what life is like at Woodgate
OUR neighbours across the ditch have boots on the ground in Woodgate to support local crews battle the fires south of Bundaberg.
Nearly 40 crews remained on scene last night battling the blaze as the fires at Woodgate rage on into the weekend.
Although access to Woodgate was permitted in the morning, Woodgate Rd was closed by midday as a new fire flared north of Kinkuna Waters Estate.
Fire crews from New Zealand arrived by about 4pm, but the fire remained out of control into the evening.
NZ task force leader Nathan Jones said the firefighters had been stationed in Noosa Northshore for the past couple of days and with the fire quietening down, they were sent to the region to lend a hand.
“We came up today and straight on to it this afternoon,” he said.
“We’ve got seven here and another 13 back in Gympie.”
He said it was about a 12-day deployment, with a day of travel, five days on the fire ground, a day off, another five days, a day travel and home again.
Mr Jones said it had been great to work with the local crews.
“Everyone’s looked after us amazingly,” he said.
“The volunteers here are totally amazing and deserve all the credit.”
And while most residents on the outskirts of Woodgate evacuated as the danger began to escalate on Wednesday, some never left the danger zone.
One such man was Mike Dean, who remained at his Kinkuna Waters home and watched as the wall of fire rolled through the bush toward him yesterday.
Mr Dean described the approaching fire front as “almost apocalyptic” as the fire drove forward in waves.
He said he was sitting down with his wife when “suddenly the whole sky went dark with a really weird orange glow” appearing behind them.
“In less than a minute this huge wall of fire started working its way through,” he said.
“The wind and sound is unbelievable.”
He decided to stay put despite advice from emergency services to evacuate because his residence was surrounded by green grass and in the middle of the estate, not near the edges.
“I’m confident to stay,” he said.
“I believe we’re safe but if I wasn’t in the middle and well protected I wouldn’t want to be here at all.”
He remained in touch with the NewsMail for the rest of the day as the fire burned westward.
By mid afternoon, he said his wife was a wreck but they were doing OK.
“Now I see if not for fire guys, three houses in this estate would have been lost for certain and I should have left,” he said.
“Too late now as I can’t see a thing from smoke and ash.”
And although the fire remained uncontrolled, by late afternoon Mr Dean believed the worst was over.
“They are still dropping water to be safe, but by the longer bomber trips, the fire is clearly heading west,” he said.
Conditions were not predicted to improve heading into the weekend as the weather bureau forecast winds blowing north, north-westerly up to 30km/h.
And while there was a severe storm warning last night for regions west of the coast, Bundaberg was not predicted to share in the rain and hail predicted to head toward other areas of the Wide Bay Burnett district.