LYLE Barry was close to death from smoke inhalation on Saturday night, when his wife Julie returned from shiftwork and found him struggling to breathe.
Mrs Barry says this was the first notification her household had of a Gympie Regional Council fire reduction burn on land across the Sandy Creek Rd from their home.
"We didn't read the paper until after lunch and I had to go to work," she said.
The burn-off was intended to prevent disaster on the huge council-owned bicycle and walking trail area, but for Mr Barry it became a disaster in itself as he struggled for life in a house which had quickly and inexplicably filled with noxious smoke.
Lyle, who suffers emphysema, was transported in a critical condition by ambulance to Gympie Hospital at 2.30am and was quickly placed in acute care.
Julie says that while the council seems to have fulfilled its obligation to let "adjoining" neighbours know the fire was coming up, she and her neighbours live across the road.
"If Julie had been working all night, I'd be dead," Lyle Barry said at Gympie Hospital yesterday.
"The smoke settled down and drifted into the house. I was coughing my guts up.
"I was in a bad way.
"It got to the point where I was coughing with only two seconds between bouts.
"It was impossible to breathe.
"Julie said I was extremely red in the face.
"I was a bit delirious. I didn't know what was going on," he said.
"Don't get me wrong. I am all for back-burning to control our properties and I believe the firies do an awesome job," Julie said.
"He was feeling unwell before Saturday.
"When I got home on Saturday night, he was struggling to breathe between coughing and the whole house was full of smoke, even with all the doors and windows shut."
Cr Larry Friske said yesterday he would investigate the matter. He had been told that all adjoining neighbours had been notified.
Asked if this included people across the road, he said: "I would assume so, but I will have to check.".
He said the wind had dropped and unfortunately, cooler night air had pressed the smoke layer down over nearby houses.
"I checked on Thursday to make sure all the letters had gone out," he said.
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