Australia — Two mountain bikers suffered third-degree burns to their legs after they stumbled into peat that was still smouldering after a planned burn three weeks ago.
The heat was so intense their shoes were melted to the soles of their feet, a volunteer involved in the rescue effort said.
The 32-year-old man and 27-year-old woman were among a group of four cyclists who entered the Currawong Falls walking track, north of Aireys Inlet, yesterday afternoon.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said signs had been erected at the entrance to the track warning people not to enter after a Department of Sustainability and Environment planned burn three weeks ago.
“There were still smoking embers there,” she said.
The man and woman had hopped off their bikes and were attempting to walk across what they thought was soft ground when they plunged knee-deep into burning ash and peat, which can continue to burn for long periods of time.
“It melted their shoes to their feet, and they tried to rip their shoes off,” a rescue volunteer, who asked not to be named, said.
A group of bushwalkers, including two German backpackers, heard their cries and called emergency services about 2.30pm.
Rural Ambulance Victoria spokesman John Mullen said the pair suffered third-degree burns to their lower legs.
The man was airlifted to The Alfred hospital in a serious condition, while the woman was carried about 2.5 kilometres to an ambulance and was taken to Geelong Hospital.
More than 40 members from the police, State Emergency Service and Country Fire Authority were involved in the rescue.