Farmer fights off 12-metre tall flames as bushfire threatened his home and mango trees
A central Queensland farmer spent six hours fighting off an intense bushfire with flames up to 12 metres high to protect his crop and home north of Rockhampton.
- ‘Ferocious’ fires threatened Jeff Pershouse’s 1,000 mango trees and crops
- Jeff and local firefighters worked for hours to keep the flames at bay
- His wife says he is a ‘hero’ but doesn’t think the emotional toll has hit him yet
Jeff Pershouse managed to save 1,000 mango trees and other small vegetable crops at his farm near The Caves after putting a call out for help on Facebook, when his calls to triple zero initially went unanswered.
He said after an hour about 30 locals and rural firefighters came to his aid.
“It was just ferocious — travelling at high speeds and just uncontrollable,” he said.
Jeff Pershouse says he could’ve been ‘fried’ by the massive flames. (ABC News: Alice Roberts)
“I’ve lived here 50 years and never seen fire in those parts of the mountain before.
“There’s nothing much you could do to stop them and if you were in the way, you’re going to get fried.”
Mr Pershouse has barely slept in days and continues to patrol the fire breaks on his property to ensure no further fires start.
The efforts of Jeff and 30 local firies saved his crops and his home. (ABC News: Alice Roberts)
“Yesterday was pretty bad, even after the fires there was a lot of whirly winds and swirling winds — it would be very easy for an ember or a spark to fly over the other side of the firebreak and go again so I’ll keep an eye out,” he said.
Karen Pershouse said her husband had to go to hospital after he “landed on a tree stalk at 2:30am yesterday putting out spot fires”.
“He fought that fire from 3.45pm through to 10.30pm that night, I don’t know how he did it.
“The emotional toll hasn’t hit him yet I don’t think.
“He is a quiet, proud guy who won’t blow his own trumpet but he is our hero.”
Residents in the nearby township of The Caves were ordered to evacuate on Wednesday evening after a fast-moving fire made its way towards the area.
Firefighters managed to contain the blaze on Thursday morning but conditions worsened by the afternoon, with evacuations in the area taking place again.
“I think we’re all at the moment a bit relieved no one’s been seriously hurt or lost any major property at the moment,” Mr Pershouse said.
“I got 1,000 mango trees so I could have lost every one of them. We’ve got two houses on the property and the shed so we could have lost all of that potentially.
“[I’ve got] a lot of gratitude — we just saw everyone turning up and helping out, so yeah the more hands the more chance you’ve got of controlling it.”
Queensland Fire and Emergency Service is currently asking residents of The Caves to stay informed as hot dry conditions continue to impact the area.