ABLAZE: Firefighter Adrian Massingham grabs the hose from the truck to fight a fire near Yeppoon High School.
ABLAZE: Firefighter Adrian Massingham grabs the hose from the truck to fight a fire near Yeppoon High School. Megan Lewis

School shuts as fire threatens

A DISCARDED cigarette butt ignited a blaze which spread over five acres, threatened 50 homes and forced the evacuation of 850 students from Yeppoon High school yesterday.

Multiple triple-zero calls were made when the fire started in a gully between the northern fenceline of the school and Rockhampton Road about 1.30pm.

Two fire trucks were on scene within minutes and with the assistance of three rural fire crews, the blaze was under control within an hour.

Yeppoon Fire Station Officer Wayne Parry said crews worked to put tracks and fire breaks in place to prevent fire from spreading further towards homes and the Capricorn Adventist Retirement Village.

Station Officer Parry said he was grateful for assistance from one of the teachers at Yeppoon High School who is also a volunteer firefighter.

“He had his gear in the back of the car and put it on and gave us a hand,” he said.

Heavy smoke from the fire also caused a traffic hazard over Rockhampton Road for some of the afternoon and police were called in to assist.

The seed of the fire was traced back to a cigarette butt discarded on land behind Talara Close, adjacent to the school.

Station Officer Parry pleaded with the public to use commonsense during the fire season.

“Because of a large fuel load and dry weather causing dangerous conditions, the fire service is pleading with people not to block streets and impede on the access and egress of fire crews,” he said after some crews had issues gaining access to the fire.

A spokesperson for Education Queensland said two teachers noticed the fire from the administration building and students were evacuated to the basketball courts according to fire procedures.

Parents were notified and classes were resumed about 2.30pm when fire crews gave the all-clear.



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