Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford today visited Gracemere to thank emergency services staff and volunteers who helped protect the town and its 11,300 residents during the 2018 Queensland bushfires.
The town’s residents were advised to evacuate as a bushfire advanced towards their homes under catastrophic fire conditions on the afternoon of 28 November 2018.
Firefighters battled the blaze for eight days to ensure the community’s safety.
“There were few people in this region untouched on that day, whether they were coming from outlaying districts to help fight the fires or they offered a bed for the night to family and friends who had been evacuated,” Mr Crawford said.
“I know that many of the Gracemere firefighters – staff and volunteers – had been deployed to help fight the fires at Baffle Creek.
“To keep Gracemere safe, we had crews from six Fire and Rescue stations and 21 Rural Fire Service brigades answer the call.
“The State Emergency Services, whose Rockhampton area members gave more than 840 hours of support during the State’s bushfire crisis, were also on hand to help residents and fire crews.
“Fire behaviour analysists from the State Operations Centre contributed with around-the-clock help, providing information from the predictive Phoenix and SABRE fire simulation technologies, which were instrumental to the response.
“These combined efforts helped to ensure no lives were lost.”
Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke said that Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews responded to 1,250 statewide bushfires between 22 November and 6 December 2018.
“From my car, I watched the Stanwell fire as it approached Gracemere and I have never seen or heard anything like it,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“The advice to evacuate came on the greatest single day of activity when crews were called to 135 fires.
“I can’t begin to thank everyone who helped out on that day.”
Mr Crawford said Queenslanders had suffered serious hardship.
“But I know without the experience, dedication and expertise of our emergency services it could have been much worse,” he said.
“To our fire and emergency services, both from across Queensland and those who deployed from interstate to lend a hand, I cannot thank you enough for all that you did during these difficult times.”
QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll praised the community response to the bushfires.
“One shining light in the months since the severe bushfires has been the support from communities across the region,” Ms Carroll said.
“We’ve had people contacting us to see what they can do to help and locals who witnessed the efforts of our crews wanting to join the RFS ranks to be a part of future efforts.
“People have held ‘thank-you’ events for our staff and volunteers and banded together to help with the recovery of the region.”