| 11.09,19. 07:16 PM |
Dramatic video shows Queensland police evacuating Peregian during bushfires
"We've got to leave now, there's houses burning behind you."
Knocking on doors while the fences burn beside them, Senior Constables Cameron McLean, Mark Johnston, Darryl "Diesel" Campbell and Gabrielle Zwaan-Ward were among the officers helping with the evacuation during wild bushfires in the Peregian area on the Sunshine Coast.
The Peregian fire began around 4:30pm on Monday and was so fast-moving it caught many off-guard.
More than 300 firefighters were fighting the blaze, while police evacuated hundreds of residents.
Harry Bryant was one of the residents still in his home as embers began to fall.
"I went outside, and I went down the street just to see where it was, because there were all the alarms and everything, and a big red glow came up over the trees," he said.
"I mentioned to a few people, 'We've got to get out, it's time to go', and all of a sudden a big roar came up and all of these embers and flames went everywhere.
"I raced inside to try and grab whatever I could … raced outside, and couldn't see because of the smoke, it was so intense, embers going everywhere.'
He said he then saw the police car coming up the road, and started walking towards it.
"And luckily it was a policeman in that car called Diesel," he said.
"We kept driving up the road looking for other people and getting them out, if there was anybody left, because it was really intense then and out of control."
Senior Constable Diesel said just before he picked up Harry, said the fire still seemed okay, but then a wind change caused it to dramatically escalate.
"When people say a firestorm, I now know what they're talking about, because it hit hard and there was a wall of fire in front of me and it was just up and over my head and started burning properties behind me," he said.
"You could barely breath, let alone see."
Officers arrived at the house of an elderly man who was seemingly unaware of the danger he was in.
"Let me give you a hand mate — there's a fire coming," an officer said to the man.
"How far [away]?" the man asked, who needed a walking frame to keep his balance.
"I'll drive you somewhere out of here and then we'll sort that out," the officer answers.
"Alright mate — do you want to grab your walking stick?"
Officers then help the man out of his house and down the stairs.
Once people were safe, the officers also chipped in, trying to stop homes catching alight.
Coming under attack from a storm of burning embers, the police took matters into their own hands.
"I've got a hose here," one officer said.
The officer used a garden hose and sprayed down a tree to help defend a property against the fire, as more people were rescued from the path of the oncoming blaze.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) Inspector Chris While said the ember attack was something not seen in a long time in Queensland.
"To have one house lost on Monday, to have one partially lost yesterday has been a phenomenal effort," he said.
Acting Chief Superintendent Darryl Johnson said deadly conditions were dangerously close.
"We've been very close to a catastrophic event here — I don't think we should lose sight of the fact that whilst we have lost one and maybe two houses, it could've been many dozens of houses lost here, along with injuries and deaths to people," he said.
"That hasn't occurred [and] I think we should look at that and take the positives out of this.
"Just driving in today you see how close the town came to not being here."