Tiny town of Baffle Creek doubles in size as Queensland fire evacuees and firefighters roll in
Chris Hill’s pub has become a temporary base for emergency services and evacuees. (ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)
As large fires continue to burn around Queensland one town south-east of Baffle Creek has doubled in population with an influx of emergency services and evacuees.
Yandaran has become a hive of activity and the base for 56 New South Wales firefighters who are assisting with efforts to control bushfires between Gladstone and Bundaberg.
The two strike teams arrived in town, which is about 30 kilometres north of Bundaberg on Friday morning, to allow local crews to manage fatigue.
Emergency services discuss fire fighting plans outside the Yandaran Rural Fire Station shed. (ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)
Yandaran Divisional Commander Bernie Massingham said the crews would remain focused on fire activities until the early evening and rotate with local teams.
“We’re going to be staged here for at least three to four days,” he said.
“We will be looking after the southern side of Baffle Creek and safety is paramount.
New South Wales Rural Fire Service operational officer Mark Tobin said the teams from across the state would be stationed in Yandaran as long as needed.
“We’ve got crews already on standby to come up and relieve current crews,” he said.
The SES has converted the Yandaran Hotel’s coolroom into storage for supplies to feed emergency services based in the town. (ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)
Pub orders extra beer to meet demand
The Yandaran Hotel has become a place of refuge and food for at least 20 Winfield residents who evacuated the town, south of Baffle Creek, earlier this week.
Publican Chris ‘Choppy’ Hill has run the town’s pub for 18 months and said this week had been the busiest he had seen.
“We usually have about one or two blokes here on a Friday but we’ve got about 20 at the moment,” he said.
“The population has about doubled — it’s usually around 120.
“I’ve got four vans out the back and three rooms, two of them booked out and the council’s been really good because we’re not actually a camping ground [but] they’re letting people stay out the back.
“All the people have come from Winfield and I threw them a barbecue this morning just to feed them up, make them feel a bit better.”
Winfield resident Steve Bruggemann is camping outside the Yandaran Hotel with his wife and two dogs after leaving his house on Thursday. (ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)
He said the SES have also set up a base at the pub, using the cold room to store food for emergency services.
Mr Hill said he has had to order extra beer to make sure he does not run out.
“Sales have picked up, but we’re not after the sales. We just want to help out and we’re also giving a lot of food out to people who have had to walk away from their homes,” he said.
“It’s been a bit scary because you don’t know how far [the fire] is going to come.”
‘The Boss’ in charge feeding the troops
‘The boss’ Bernice Maidment is in charge of making sure emergency services and locals are fed at the Yandaran CWA hall. (ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)
Bernice ‘The Boss’ Maidment is in charge of making sure emergency services and locals are fed at Yandaran CWA hall where people have evacuated to.
She said it is the first time she has done anything like it.
“We’ve got sausages to cook and we’ve got sandwiches coming from other people around here,” she said.
She said that along with the firefighters, there were those staying in caravans that had to be fed too.
“They [the locals] said ‘no, you’ve got to feed the firefighters. We can manage on our own’,” she said.
Along with those locals, she said she was grateful for their efforts.
“It’s hard work and you’re doing excellent work,” Ms Maidment said.