Faces of bravery: 75 fireys deployed to firestorm
THEY'VE been fighting fires in their own backyard for months on end, but 75 Queensland firefighters have put their hands up to battle unprecedented blazes in New South Wales.
With only 24 hours notice, 54 Rural Fire Service volunteers left Brisbane this morning to battle bushfires in the Wollongong area.
An additional 21 fire and rescue personnel have been sent to New South Wales to protect homes near Sydney, most likely the Blue Mountains.
QFES Acting Inspector Joel Gordon said fire conditions in NSW would spike tomorrow with temperatures up to 47 degrees with winds of up to 90km/h.
"I cannot understate how dangerous this situation is potentially going to be," Mr Gordon said.
"We are going into a fire ground in a state where they have already lost 15 lives, three of those were our fellow firefighters.
"We are potentially going into a declared disaster zone. We are going to be confronted with images that people may or may not find distressing."
Mum-of-three Christy Lewis, 31, has been a volunteer firefighter in the RFS for three years. and was last year deployed five times to fight bushfires in NSW.
"NSW people come up here and they help us when we need help, so it's only natural that you return the favour," Ms Lewis said.
"The kids were like 'mum you going to go?' and I feel guilt because as a mum you want to stay and be there with the kids but they understand."
Ms Lewis' partner, who is also a firefighter, is staying home to look after the kids.
"He's a firefighter too, so he said to me be safe, be careful, it's like a war zone down there," she said.
"He's a bit nervous but we've got really good people around us … at the end of the day when you're in a zone like that we have the training."
The decision to offer up resources to NSW was only made yesterday, according to QFES Commissioner Greg Leach.
He said favourable weather conditions in Queensland have lowered fire risk and no significant fires are currently burning in the state.
"That gave us the ability to make an offer to NSW yesterday and of course they were only too quick to accept because if you've been watching any of the footage down there they've just been getting hammered in NSW, some of the fire behaviour that you will have seen is just extraordinary," Mr Leach said.
"Our ground fuel conditions are still very dry and given the right day and the right weather we could be back into fire conditions ourselves, but currently we are tracking okay."
The QLD crews are expected to return within 5-7 days. Mr Leach said another RFA crew may be deployed upon their return.