The lightning bolt that started Coast bushfire

The lightningbolt that started Coast bushfire

1 December 2006

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Queensland, Australia — Was this the very lightning bolt that startedWednesday night’s fires which saw homes evacuated, the motorway shut for sixhours and thousands of dollars of cane go up in smoke?

Mick McWilliams caught this “lucky shot” of lightning from hisFinland Road home in Bli Bli just before 7pm. The tree in the photo is onlyabout 10 metres from the back of Mr McWilliams’ home but the strike was wellbehind the tree.

The fires which broke out saw residents and children on a school sleepoverevacuated and firefighters put at risk as winds changed.

The lightning is believed to have sparked numerous fires near the junction ofFinland Road and the Sunshine Motorway about 7.

15pm. By the time fire crews arrived minutes later, a 50sqƒ|m area of highlycombustible caneland, normally used for controlled burns, was alight.

“There was a wind change about an hour into the job and that put a lotof crews at risk, subjecting a lot of them to danger,” Queensland Fire andRescue Service spokesperson Arch Andrews said.

“It was a close call, there were experienced firies out there who gotthe shock of their lives when the wind conditions changed.

“That’s a risk we take when we fight a fire.”

Mr Andrews said about 10 residents were evacuated to a cane shed on FinlandRoad, while a class of Year 2 Coolum Christian College kids on a sleepover werealso taken away from the area.

Farmer Hans Savimaki owned much of the burnt land and estimated his loss at20 acres of mulching cane worth thousands of dollars.

“I went and woke the people up and told them the flames had jumped theroad and they’d better get ready,” he said.

A resident who offered her sheds to the evacuees said she was happy to help.

“They asked if they could use my shed and I said ‘of course’ and weshifted all the cars out,” she said, preferring to remain anonymous.

“They made that their base camp, they used the bathroom and made cups oftea. I was happy to help because you never know when you’ll need help yourself.”

A total of 11 urban and rural crews containing about 50 people took on theflames throughout the night.

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