Fiery warning to drivers
CAUTION and care were two vital factors drivers who approached a grassfire on the Bruce Hwy on Sunday weren't worried about.
And local rural fire authorities want to send a clear warning to drivers: slow down and drive to the conditions or don't be surprised if you hurt someone.
Brad Kingston could see only one metre ahead of him as thick smoke from the grassfire smothered the Bruce Highway at Kunwarara, two kilometres north of the Raspberry Creek Road turnoff, on Sunday morning.
The Caves Rural Fire Brigade first officer-in-charge and his crew were second on the scene of the grassfire, which started when a wheel came off a boat trailer being towed by a truck and the friction between its bearings and the road caused sparks.
Thick smoke wafted across the highway, blinding drivers and sending fire officers into a panic as they tried to put out the fire on a busy highway.
Mr Kingston told The Morning Bulletin yesterday the scene of the fire was "a disaster waiting to happen" as cars sped through the smoke.
He said the Caves Rural Fire Brigade tried to control the middle and southern ends of the fire when they arrived at the scene but had to stop their fight when traffic failed to slow down.
He said a rural firefighter was hit by a dual-cab truck after he flagged the vehicle down as it crept through the thick of the smoke.
He told the driver to flick his hazard and head lights on and proceed with caution.
Before the driver of the dual cab, in his early 50s, could go any further his truck was clipped by a smaller flat deck truck travelling from behind, shoving his vehicle into a ditch and hitting the firefighter.
The firefighter has a broken wrist and bruises to his back.
"Visibility had dropped from 80% to about 5% because of the smoke and yet cars were still speeding through the area," he said.
"If there is smoke on the road while you are driving, you don't have to stop but it doesn't mean you should speed either.
"It was too dangerous to continue fighting the fire so we pulled back to wait for traffic control officers to arrive."
Mr Kingston said the rural firefighter who was hit will be out of action for the next eight weeks.
"He is absolutely gutted he won't be able to see out the rest of this fire season," Mr Kingston said.
"It's good to have blokes like him with our brigade."