“It was an extraordinary event”: Locals faced the fires
WITH 20 years experience under his belt, firefighter Brendan Gigante said seeing scenes of destruction from extreme blazes never got easier.
He accompanied teams from across the region in helping to control the severe fires near Yeppoon this week.
Mr Gigante, captain at Emerald Fire and Rescue, said it was very confronting battling extremely challenging conditions.
“It’s not the sort of environment you come across every year,” he said.
“It was an extraordinary event.
“It’s confronting seeing the scenes of destruction and the effect it has on peoples lives.”
As soon as they received the call on Sunday morning, more than 10 emergency fire personnel from stations at Emerald, Springsure, Blackwater, Tieri and Clermont immediately responded and drove to Yeppoon, not returning until Tuesday.
“It was pretty impressive that they dropped their normal day-to-day stuff and went out,” Emerald Fire Service acting area commander Clive Weeks said.
“There was no time to prepare, they just got up and went.
“They were definitely needed, and they did a fantastic job while they were out there.”
Mr Weeks said it was important to support neighbouring communities, especially during times of emergency.
“We’re all about helping the community not just Emerald,” he said.
“Of course, we look after our own patch and we couldn’t leave us too short, but we were certainly there to help as well.”
Despite communities facing extreme bushfires across the state, Mr Weeks said the Central Highlands region had been extremely fortunate so far.
Mr Gigante believed it was the pre-fire season efforts put in place by the community and Central Highlands Region Council that had helped to prevent extreme blazes locally.
With full time and volunteer firefighters in the region, Mr Gigante said it was the support of the community, business and families in the Central Highlands that allowed firefighters to do what they do.
“We are full time employees, so we rely on local community to support us to do what we do, and otherwise we couldn’t do it,” he said.