'Wombat' helps save CQ homes

IT'S Neale Dunphy's get-in-and-get-it-done attitude that has helped save hundreds of homes from vicious bushfires across the region.

Nicknamed “Wombat” by everyone he knows, the rural firefighter returned home to Gogango on Monday after spending six weeks on call in Rockhampton.

Wombat's only experience as a firefighter is the 30 years he's spent as a volunteer.

He joined more than 100 volunteer firies battling blazes and said the only way he could describe the fires in Rockhampton was as “terrible”.

Wombat's longest shift was 29 hours, working non-stop to coordinate crews to battle a vicious blaze at Mt Morgan.

But, sure to his determination, Wombat picked up the hose the next day and went back out to save lives.

“It was just the way it worked out. Things happen. You forget about time when you're doing that sort of job.”

In the last few weeks he's seen hundreds of homes come under threat of bushfires.

“I've never seen fire react like it did,” he said.

On the Sunday afternoon of the weekend bushfires, Wombat was helping battle fires on Forbes Avenue in North Rockhampton.

“We got caught in a fire on Forbes Avenue, myself and another crew. It was pretty hairy for us.

“We were trapped in the house; we couldn't get out. We had trouble breathing because of the smoke. It was touch-and-go for a while for the four of us in the crew.

“It's up to us to protect the houses and we've got to do it to the best of our abilities. A rural brigade hasn't really got the training to handle a house fire but we're there to stop the fire from getting to the house.”

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