WARNING WARRANTED: Graham Parker of Ballandean Rural Fire Service in the aftermath of the Cyprus Ridge fires.
WARNING WARRANTED: Graham Parker of Ballandean Rural Fire Service in the aftermath of the Cyprus Ridge fires. Bianca Hrovat

Ballandean firefighter begs community amid 'Armageddon'

USAIN Bolt couldn't run as fast as the fire spread through the Southern Downs this week, according to Ballandean rural fire officer Graham Parker.

When Mr Parker arrived on the scene on Saturday morning he described what lay before his crew as "absolute Armageddon.”

"I was talking to an incident controller about the fire and he said the spotter planes measured the fire's speed at 10 metres a second, at treetop height,” he said.

"That's the sort of thing where people die.”

TOTAL DESTRUCTION: Graham Parker says fires are to be expected but caution could avoid further destruction.
TOTAL DESTRUCTION: Graham Parker says fires are to be expected but caution could avoid further destruction. Bianca Hrovat

Wind speeds in Stanthorpe reached tops of 63km/h over the weekend, propelling the horrific conditions across the region and threatening hundreds of properties.

A spokeswoman for the QFES said the fires over the weekend highlighted how important it was for residents to stay on top of fire alerts, heed warnings and evacuate when asked.

Even with his eight years of experience, Mr Parker said the intensity of the fire had him wondering why his crew was heading in its direction.

"You're driving into it and you're thinking, 'What the hell are we doing here?'” he said.

"We should be going the other way!”

It was this intense wind that caused two power lines to clash and spark another fire in Ballandean this week.

"The big winds blow the power lines and they arc up, drop the sparks and then we're on,” Mr Parker said.

"The fire at Ballandean started and within five minutes it was gone.

"The people who saw it start tried to do what they could to put it out but it wasn't something they could manage and just like that ... it was gone.”

Though the fire service was able to contain the fire and prevent any property damage to their area, the event highlighted how easy it was for fire to spark in the deadly dry conditions.

"There's a whole pile of things that cause fires, from mowing, slashing and welding, to people emptying coal boxes outside or throwing their cigarettes out the window,” he said.

"It's just about being careful and not doing stupid things.”

As conditions warm up over the next week and fire warnings remain current for the Southern Downs, Mr Parker begged residents not to tempt fate by engaging in any risky behaviour.

"Just don't light any fires - No fires, no fires, no fires, please!” he said.



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