Loose wheel throws hwy into panic
A LOOSE wheel sparked fire and traffic mayhem on the Bruce Hwy near Kunwarara yesterday, with one person airlifted to hospital and a firefighter hit by a truck.
It started when a wheel came off a boat trailer being towed by a truck, and the friction between its bearings and the road caused a grass fire.
The fire spread a kilometre along the highway near the Raspberry Creek Rd turn-off, about 60km north of Rockhampton.
Thick smoke smothered the highway, blinding drivers and sending fire officers into a panic as they tried to put out the fire on a busy highway. Firefighters were instructed to stop fighting the fire periodically, and wait for police traffic control units to arrived.
Things snowballed when a rural firefighter was hit as he tried to flag down a truck, while fire officers tried to put the fire out from the highway.
But a truck travelling behind it hit the back of the first one, accidentally shoving it off the road and into the ditch.
The firefighter was hit and the truck driver trapped in his vehicle, jammed in by his foot.
The RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service flew in, and airlifted the man to Rockhampton hospital once he was cut out.
A Central Queensland Fire Rescue Service representative said trucks were not slowing down.
"This made the fight to contain the fire a little harder, but we managed to contain it," he said.
Rockhampton councillor Glenda Mather, who was travelling north yesterday, managed to make it through the smoke but said "you could hardly see a thing".
"People need to take extra precautions when handling fire," she said.
The trapped motorist, who was in his 50s, was in a stable condition yesterday afternoon and Sgt Mac Duus said the rural firefighter suffered minor injuries to his back.
The fire service's spokesman said people needed to take extra precautions when driving in smoke, and to be aware of the dangerous fire season.
"Our biggest concern is smokers who don't extinguish their cigarettes properly, and we are urging them to not act carelessly by flicking their butts out their car window," he said.
The fire adds to a tally of Central Queensland weekend fires, including one at Mount Morgan on Razorback Rd on Saturday.
10.15am: Wheel falls off trailer and starts grass fire north of Rockhampton.
10.40am: Smoke causes a two-truck collision. A firefighter and a man in his early-50s are injured.
12.15pm: Man trapped in his vehicle is released and airlifted to Rockhampton hospital.
3pm: Bruce Hwy is still closed.