Hikers trapped by Queensland bushfire run for their lives

About 13 hikers were pinned down by a bushfire in Blackdown Tableland National Park on Sunday afternoon.

About 13 hikers were pinned down by a bushfire in Blackdown Tableland National Park on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Facebook/ Nicole Galea

Hikers were forced to run for their lives to escape an out-of-control bushfire in the Blackdown Tableland National Park at Rainbow Falls west of Rockhampton.

Up to 11 people, including children, were rescued by ambulance crews after calling triple zero when they found themselves running from the blaze as it spread quickly around them.

The group of eight adults and three children were treated for minor smoke inhalation and no one required transportation to hospital.

Nicole Galea described the ordeal on Facebook, saying she could feel the heat of the fire as she tried to escort the children to safety.

They were located by a CQ Rescue helicopter then rescued by paramedics on the ground.

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Fire rose quickly inside the national park on Sunday, Ms Galea said. Photo: Facebook/ Nicole Galea

“What started out as an awesome day with our BFFs [best friends forever] enjoying a hike … ended in us running for our lives after a fire started,” Ms Galea wrote.

“What started as a small fire about 10-30 metres away on the trail, went up to half the mountainside in minutes.

“Running with kids screaming, calling 000 as we ran, just keeping up with freaked kids, fire heat at our backs, deafening sounds and roar of the fire.

“Praying for all the people who had already walked down to the falls.

A central Queensland woman who was caught in the bushfire with her family says they were lucky to escape unharmed.

Emerald woman Karley McGregor had just started walking the track with her family when the fire broke out.

“We had visitors from NSW so we took them there for the day, so we had four adults and five kids,” she said.

About 800 metres down the track she noticed a small fire.

“My husband tried to put it out, but within seconds it took off. Within a minute it was up the trees. We just grabbed the kids and we all just started running and screaming,” she said.

“My son was bawling his eyes out, he couldn’t hear us over the crackling of the fire.

qld bushfire

Karley McGregor started walking the track in the national park when the fire broke out. Photo: Karley McGregor

“It just was that intense that quickly it just was above our heads up trees, just crawling up the hill. I was just having an instant mother moment where you just go ‘well, if something’s going to happen at least you’re all together’… It was terrible, just terrible,” she said

Ms McGregor said when they got back to the carpark they warned everyone to leave.

“We did our best but we learnt a lot today. I hope it doesn’t happen again. It was very dry and it hasn’t rained in ages,” she said.

Ms McGregor said they passed a young teenager on the track heading the opposite direction just before they spotted the fire.

At least one property lost in Atherton Tablelands

Meanwhile, at least one property has been lost in a separate bushfire south-west of Cairns in the state’s far north.

Residents living in the Walsh River Road area of the Atherton Tablelands were told on early on Sunday afternoon to seek shelter from the fast-moving bushfire.

bushfire trapped hikers qld

The CQ Rescue helicopter located the trapped bushwalkers at Rainbow Falls. Photo: CQ Rescue

Two water bombers and more than 50 firefighters have been working at the scene to limit the fire and Queensland police have been helping to evacuate people from the Christian Community Centre and nearby properties which were under imminent threat.

The fire, which has been burning for some time and described as “erratic”, flared on Saturday evening when residents on Walsh River Road were advised to follow their bushfire survival plans and leave their properties.

The fire threat then eased, but the situation worsened again on Sunday.

There have been no reports of injuries and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services downgraded the fire from an “emergency warning” to an “advice” warning.

The fire has past the area near homes under threat and was heading away from the community on Sunday evening.

Mareeba mayor Tom Gilmore said the property lost was believed to be an abandoned shed.

“There’s been on other damage or injury to my knowledge,” Cr Gilmore said.

“It’s a terrible situation. We’ve had fires up there now for two weeks continuously, and I wonder about how some of these have started.

“But we’re going to have to plan more and more for these things. A lot more, very early in the season, on preventative burning.”


Topics: Bushfires
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