The fire in the Greenbank area called “Spring Mountain” has raged for the past week. Our Brigade has provided two trucks on most days. “Spring Mountain” is similar to other big fires we have attended in SEQ recently in that a small initial outbreak which was not contained promptly, spread into inaccessible country and burned in various directions to cover a large area.
On Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th October the watchword was ‘monitoring’. The idea was that the fire would be watched as it proceeded in an orderly manner to places where it could be stopped. On Wednesday at 0640 Jaap and Robbo took TM41 to ‘baby sit the fire till about three o’clock’. Within minutes of leaving Greenbank Station we met part of the fire burning brightly at the top end of Elmark Road from where it could threaten the nearby housing estate.
From that point onwards it was continuous firefighting in all its aspects until 1730. One of our tasks was to protect the bulldozer which was assigned to establish Elmark Road as an effective control line by widening it from a narrow track to a two lane highway (albeit very steep and with lots of loose sand). This was done to great effect – for my money one bulldozer at a bush fire is worth two helicopters and it costs just a fraction of a Helitak. While this was happening the head of that section of the fire burned steadily down Elmark Road with some big flames and we stopped it jumping the track along the whole length. This all worked as intended in a very satisfactory manner. Just after the road had been widened, TM52 came by with Kent, Greg and Paris on their way to another sector.
Jaap as driver and in all other ways did a top job. All the 4-WD work gobbled up the diesel and we refilled at the servo on the way home. A very productive day – although it did not turn out as expected.
On Thursday Marie and Robbo again set off at 0630 to monitor in TM41. For much of the day we did exactly that. We were joined in mid morning by Roger and Caie in TM52. Jimboomba 41 was also there. We watched the fire move across country up and then down hill. Close to the fire there was a very high fuel load and this led to a display of multiple ‘fire-willies’ – 20 metre high tornadoes of fire whirling up the hill. Just as the fire got near to the control line TM41 and J41 were redeployed adjacent to Tully Road to help with a big backburn there. (Not long after we left, TM52 and G52 had a hard but successful job stopping the oncoming fire on the control line.)
At the backburn site the intention was that a Council grader would cut a control track – similar to the bulldozer on Wednesday. However, the ground was boggy in places and the grader (20+ tons on four quite small wheels) said ‘no go’. (It would have been child’s play for Wednesday’s bulldozer). Under Bonogin 1 as Sector Commander, we lit a large uphill backburn using hoses to contain the starting edge of the burn. This looked impressive with very large flames and it got more impressive still when night fell. Various trucks got bogged; J41 did so twice and in each case Marie did a copy-book job of snatching it free. One up for snatch-straps – and for Maria!
Around 2000 we were relieved by other crews and found our way with much difficulty across unmarked boggy country in the dark, back to the track and hence to the Station. Another useful day with the Brigade again helping our neighbours.