In response to an 0740 call on Saturday 1 December from a concerned resident living in the Eagle Heights area, Greg and Roger took TM52 for a drive around the Wongawollan Road area. We soon spotted a plume of smoke rising from what appeared to the Cabello Road connection between Wongawollan and Guanaba. This is in the Guanaba RFB area, but Firecom advised that their response would be delayed.
We were pleased to find the steep track through the Conservation Reserve in great condition and encountered the established scrub fire near the Telstra tower junction. A passing trail-bike rider suggested that the source of the fire may have been an unattended campfire but an initial attempt to contain the western boundary rapidly became a futile exercise as the fire outflanked us. A number of units from Clagriba, Guanaba, Coomera Valley and further afield arrived and began work on the eastern boundary, initially defending the Telstra tower.
Despite the welcome arrival of TM51 with a backup crew of Robbo, Donna, Geoff and Keith in our area, we had to fall back, or more correctly, scramble back, to Cabello Rd. That rapid retreat from a threatening situation meant leaving behind a couple of hoses in the black; they have since been recovered. Perhaps a lesson learned there: never get too far away from the truck when down extremely steep hillsides.
Incident Command was handed over to Alan Gillespie of Guanaba RFB, where the eastern sector defended the Telstra tower and contained a burn over the ridge toward properties. We tried to prevent the fire crossing the road by back burning its northern edge into a northerly wind rising to more than 20kph and temperatures of 30 degrees. The heat and smoke for many hours were quite debilitating and we were grateful for the effective smoke masks.
With great help from Coomera Valley, we smothered the spot-overs and gradually established a black line along the ridge, but it was only when the wind finally died in the evening that control was declared. Kent and Don in TM41 did a great job of blacking out areas and containing spot-overs until early evening, while Cameron arrived in TM81 at about 1500 with welcome refreshments and energy.
All in all, a very taxing day in marginal conditions. We were pleased to hand over to the night crew, who finished the job, but felt we had put in a pretty good effort for our neighbors.