More Smokey Days

by Neville Crocombe

A fire, of unknown origin, started about 2.30 pm Sunday, October 22, in a totally inaccessible remote location well below the power lines that cross the Tamborine-Oxenford Road just past the Nut Farm, and spread up to the side of the Tamborine-Oxenford Road. It was monitored throughout the night, and after almost dying out, it flared-up again about 3 pm on Monday. Water bombing was not an option due to the wind and turbulence.

On Monday evening a plan was devised to contain the fire till Tuesday when over two dozen fire engines from a multitude of agencies including Parks and Wildlife, Natural Resources, Urban and Auxiliary Brigades and a plethora of volunteer Rural Brigades could swing into action on Tuesday. A map was prepared and Doug Bray used his bull-dozer early on Tuesday to re-open an old track from Tony and Crystal’s Chalet, opposite Paradise Road, to the top of Cedar Creek Falls.

From this cleared break and along behind about thirty homes fronting the Tamborine-Oxenford Road, controlled fires were ignited and monitored in sequence to prevent any possibility of an uncontrolled wildfire spreading up from the valley. In mid-afternoon, a pair of helicopters carried out water bombing along the eastern flank and the deliberately lit control fires along the road were completed by 5 pm at which time some crews were stood down and others continued to monitor the situation well into the night.

This was an excellent example of a well co-coordinated effort of many salaried organisations working with unpaid volunteers, most popular of whom were the SES team who set up a base opposite the Nut Farm and provided weary fire fighters with an excellent BBQ meal, and a choice of hot or cold drinks. Rural Fire Brigades from both Beaudesert and Gold Coast areas worked in teams. Tamborine Mountain Rural Brigade supplied eight volunteer members and used all three of their yellow fire trucks. The fire fighters appreciated the ready co-operation of all affected Tamborine Mountain residents and especially the catering provided by their friends in the SES.

During Wednesday and Thursday, the fire burnt down hill towards Cedar Creek. Throughout Friday, fire crews ensured the containment of the fire in the valley and relied on the Cedar Creek to provide a natural barrier to the north. In all about 450 to 500 hectares were burnt. This has now provided protection for the houses fronting the Tamborine-Oxenford Road from the risk of an uncontrolled wildfire and was ecologically sound in that Australian flora relies on occasional fire to promote regeneration of the natural vegetation. This area had not seen fire during the last six or so years.

Brigades were on the job again in force on Saturday 28th when a strong westerly wind drove the fire back up the hill towards the Tamborine-Oxenford Road. Vigilance paid off as three crews soon despatched the grass fires which were ignited by flying embers, across the road near the Wedding Chapel. The Urban Brigade red fire engines were in evidence. One was parked at the Nut Farm to ensure that embers did not start a structural fire.

Fire crews from volunteer Rural Fire Brigades remain on stand-by. New recruits do not attend fires until they have demonstrated basic competency during local training sessions. A nationally accredited training scheme is in place for all fire fighters working as unpaid volunteers with a Rural Brigade. In addition each Brigade has Support Members who raise funds to pay for essential equipment, fuel for the appliances and training for the Active (fire fighting) Members. As most Brigades are on the lookout for more members, anyone interested in joining in this vital community service should contact their nearest Brigade.

Posted in Incident Reports