Anakie Hotel owner Robyn George stands in front of Frank Murray’s empty chair.
Anakie Hotel owner Robyn George stands in front of Frank Murray’s empty chair. Simon Green

Heroine saves Frank from van fire

ANAKIE'S Frank Murray is one lucky customer, after the owner of his favourite watering hole last week leapt into his burning caravan and saved him from certain death.

When Frank's designated chair at the Anakie Hotel stays empty during the day, the staff know something is wrong.

Unfortunately, it looks to remain that way for a while, after a caravan fire left the Anakie legend in a Brisbane hospital fighting severe burns and smoke inhalation.

About 9.30 on Friday night, hotel owner Robyn George was in her backyard, which borders the Anakie Gemfields Caravan Park, where Frank lives. He is believed to be about 90 years old, or as Robyn said, "he's been telling me he's 85 for eight years now".

"My dog was making strange noises and at the same time I could hear a lot of banging and a lady yelling. I looked around and could see smoke coming from the top of Frank's caravan," she said.

"When I got round, there was a group who had used their caravan fire extinguishers to break open the window to fight it. There was a lot of flames and smoke inside - it was billowing out.

"The door was already open and someone had already gone in and they were adamant he wasn't inside. It all happened so very fast, I just remember everyone saying, 'he's not in there, he's not in his bed', and me saying, 'he has to be, there is nowhere else he can be', and then just yelling, 'get out of my way', and tearing in there."


Frank Murray's caravan
Frank Murray's caravan

Robyn found her frail old neighbour huddled up in a corner. His skin was loose and his face and arms were badly burnt under his melted clothes. She picked him up and ran outside, where she comforted him until the ambulance arrived.


It is believed that Frank remains unconscious but in a stable condition at a Brisbane hospital.

"Robyn is the heroine, she's the one that scooted in there and found him curled up," said Jim, a traveller staying at the park, who helped extinguish the fire through the window of the van.

"We all thought because the mattress was on fire, and he smoked in bed, we thought that's where he would be... we were concentrating all the fire extinguishers and the torches on the bed, when he was actually curled up in another corner."


Frank Murray.
Frank Murray.

Old Frank is as big of a character as you'll find in the Gemfields.


"He's only a little tiny man, about 40kg, but on a good day he loves a yarn and is a real character," Robyn said.

"Maybe it wasn't a smart idea but when it's someone you know and you know they are in there and need your help - you just do it."

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