A view north from McMullen Rd of the Pechey bushfire, north of Toowoomba, November 14.
A view north from McMullen Rd of the Pechey bushfire, north of Toowoomba, November 14.

Firefighters are worth their weight in gold

PECHEY landholder Paul Riley was working away at Inglewood when he got word fire was bearing down on his new home.

He made it home in time to grab a handful of personal items and head to safety.

"When I got home, the fire was about 800 metres from the house," he said.

"I could not see it heading towards the house. Then I saw my tank in the top paddock go up, then the wind changed.

"There was plenty of long grass between the tank and the house, so I chucked what I could in the ute and left.

"I had to accept whatever was going to happen would happen."

Mr Riley spent Wednesday night bunked down at a mate's place worrying if he had a home to go back to.

"I collapsed in stress and was very emotional, which is a strange thing for me, but events like this hit you in the heart," he said.

 

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The fire roared along Sewell Rd. It burnt all of Mr Riley's pasture, melted his plumbing and septic system, damaged his water tanks and destroyed a garden shed.

The house was untouched.

Mr Riley moved to the area about 12 months ago and had not yet shifted his family and animals to the property.

It was a fortunate turn of events that meant he did not have to evacuate his six horses, four dogs, three cats and collections of birds.

His neighbour decided to stay at home though the fire to protect his cattle herd.

Pechey Fire: A video of the Pechey bushfire at dusk on November 13, looking back from Crows Nest. PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Eastgate Photography and Film
Pechey Fire: A video of the Pechey bushfire at dusk on November 13, looking back from Crows Nest. PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Eastgate Photography and Film

"He would have hundred of thousands of dollars worth of cattle, so losing them would be a massive financial hit, plus he has access to plenty of water," Mr Riley said.

"The fire totally destroyed his grazing land and came within metres of his home."

Mr Riley said he owed a debt to the firefighters who protected his house even though they had never met.

"I can see tyre tracks in the burnt grass where their trucks come through," he said.

"It is incredible to think they put their lives on the line to save as much property as they could while trying to ascertain the direction of the fire flow and how it would affect the houses dotted around the place. They are worth their weight in gold."

Despite a fast moving fire and changing winds no homes were lost at Pechey.