Poet inspired by those who braved fire's front line
GROWING up on a farm, Courtney Fleming remembers all too clearly what it is like to find yourself powerless against Mother Nature in the middle of a burning hot fire zone.
"It's hot," she said with a laugh.
"Everything is just chaotic and there's no stopping it half the time.
"You're just exhausted. I remember we would go around on little quads with water and it did hardly anything but you just keep going."
So when the Bundaberg woman heard that her partner, Lachlan Boston's granddad, Jim Barker, was trapped in the middle of the Granite Belt's disaster, she couldn't help but show her empathy in the only medium she knew how, poetry.
Creating a poem entitled One Fiery Night, Miss Fleming relived the fear of her own fire experiences and also what her loved ones went through on the night of September 6.
"His mum (Mr Boston), was really worried and everything, because we couldn't hear from him (Mr Barker) because the phone lines were down," she said.
"We didn't really sleep that night at all.
"We didn't hear that much from him but I thought of what it would be like."
Luckily, Mr Barker's property was miraculously saved by firefighters who managed to fight off the fire behind and in front of the house, and to them, Miss Fleming pays special tribute in her poem.
"I like to write about that stuff, they deserve it. They did a good job," she said.
Those who she writes, "braved their lives on the front line", even returned the love, with Sugarloaf Rural Fire Brigade, sharing what they called her "beautifully written" poem on Facebook.
Almost not posting the poem online, Miss Fleming said she was encouraged by Mr Boston, in the hopes the poem could show the rest of Queensland the reality of the Granite Belt's tragedy.
"It shows the firefighters that they're appreciated and shows others that don't live where it happened what it's like," she said.
"City people have probably never experienced anything like that."
Read Miss Fleming's poem below:
One Fiery Night
Sparks flying in wildering spring air
Nearby home owners sit and stare
For what once was a peaceful bit of bushland
Nobody anticipated how bad it could become beforehand
Flames rising rapidly above tree tops
Unfortunate Damage unknown until it stops
Blistering heat encaptures a small town
Black ashes filled trunks that once were brown
Then wind howls like a dingo during a full moon
Surely the fire would die down soon
Air filled with black thick smoke
Breathing became hard, trying not to choke
Flames become closer to our homes
A plea to leave lit up our phones
Valuable belongings littered the caravan floor
Certificates, trophy's, dogs and more
Anticipation, worry, sadness filled peoples face
As they left their own dwelling place
Driving away darkness filled the atmosphere
Crackling of wood is all you can hear
Yellow Fluoro jackets soon lit up the scene
Faces black far from clean
All their effort fightfighters put in
A lot worse without them it would have been
Working tirelessly around the clock
Not even stopping if they loose a sock
Raging on the fire still stands
Little kids are finding it hard to understand
The night goes by without any sleep
Luckily the fire has died down a heap
We finally got the all clear
Slowly driving back to our homes in fear
Luckier than some our homes have been saved
The firefighters we owe our lives as they braved
Braved their lives on the front line
So we could see each other and our house one more time
They did all they could
To save our livelihood
Thankyou to all who stood tall
Our little town will not burn and fall
Yes the fire has had a devastating impact
But our hearts and bodies are still intact
Let's all come together to help rebuild
Broken hearts, together will be refilled