A firefighter heads up Hinds Street to save houses from a large bushfire sweeping along the Berserker range on the outskirts of Rockhampton last year.
A firefighter heads up Hinds Street to save houses from a large bushfire sweeping along the Berserker range on the outskirts of Rockhampton last year. Chris Ison

Woman recalls rescue from fireball

SHE almost died and she almost lost everything she owns but Janine Shanks says she'll never leave her Hinds Street home.

The house she shares with Mark Carpenter was engulfed in flames at the height of the destructive bushfires which threatened to raze Koongal a year ago.

Yesterday Janine told how she was dragged unconscious from her property by an ambulance man as flames lapped at her front door.

“We were overwhelmed by the speed of the blaze and the suffocating smoke,” she said.

“We were all packed up and ready to go and I went back for my birds. I fell over and smashed my knee and I passed out.”

She said the rescuers “came from nowhere” and hauled her to safety as a superheated ball of flame swallowed the house.

Everything that was outside was burnt to a crisp. Not a tree or plant survived.

“I would have died for sure,” she said. “It's such a vivid memory and I don't think you ever really recover from an experience like that.”

But when she was asked if she had considered moving to a part of the city less at risk from bushfires she couldn't have been more certain.

“No way. It's a beautiful place to live, so tranquil and full of wildlife. I've been there 30 years and I don't think of it as being unsafe at all. What happened last year was a once in a lifetime thing.”

Mark said they had attended yesterday's council organised community barbecue marking the anniversary of the fires to celebrate survival.

“It's important everyone remembers what happened and does what they can to prevent it happening again. I think it is important to recognise the guys who helped us and say thanks again,” she said.

“I looked at that massive wall of flame moving towards the house and was convinced we were going to lose everything.

“As it turned out everything in the house was safe, if a bit smoke-damaged. The insurance company was absolutely fabulous, right down to replacing every plant pot that got burnt.”

Residents mingled with firefighters at the Baptist Tabernacle on Norman Road yesterday lunchtime to reminisce about that fateful day.



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