The crews came together to fight the fire.
The crews came together to fight the fire.

IN PHOTOS: How town-saving heroes are being thanked

THE blackened bushland surrounding Fraser Island's Happy Valley community says it all.

How close the wildfire came to the township.

The valiant backburning that protected the town when the fire came within a few hundred metres of properties.

Cards of thanks say it all.
Cards of thanks say it all.

The determination of rural and urban fire crews, as well as the remaining residents of Happy Valley, to defend the township from the flames.

On Sunday and Monday, the situation on the island was critical.

An evacuation order was in place for Happy Valley, urging those unprepared for the fire to leave immediately.

Goodwood rural firefighter Winston Williams, 66, penned the area's survival plan.

He was among a team of 18 who carried out the backburning measures that would ultimately protect the township from the wildfire that was bearing down.

"It was a pretty critical thing to do," Mr Williams said.

Fire crews preparing to fight the blaze.
Fire crews preparing to fight the blaze.

"It saved the town, not a doubt in my mind."

Mr Williams's wife Glenda, 65, was among those in the team that carried out the backburning.

The backburning effort met the head fire a couple of hundred metres out from the township.

"It was a pretty critical thing to do," Mr Williams said.

Waterbombing aircraft fighting the flames.
Waterbombing aircraft fighting the flames.

The backburning measures were assisted by hazard reduction burns that had been carried out earlier in the year near Happy Valley.

Strong winds up to 30 to 40 kilometres led to spot fires, but those were quickly eliminated.

Residents and fire crews stood shoulder to shoulder while the fire was directed around the town, buying some time and protecting properties.

The wildfire came within a couple of hundred metres of the township.
The wildfire came within a couple of hundred metres of the township.

By 8pm on Monday, the crews were confident they had saved the town.

Then, like something out of a Hollywood movie, the rain came down.

"A rainstorm fell pretty much on top of where we were working," Mr Williams said.

The rain brought much-needed relief to those fighting the fires.

Happy Valley volunteer firefighter Winston Williams exhausted at the end of the day on Monday evening, December 7, 2020. Picture: Elspeth Murray
Happy Valley volunteer firefighter Winston Williams exhausted at the end of the day on Monday evening, December 7, 2020. Picture: Elspeth Murray

With more expected this weekend, it is hoped the fire, which has been burning on the island for seven weeks, might finally be extinguished.

Earlier this week Elspeth Murray from the Happy Valley Community Association praised the efforts of the rural firefighters who had helped fight the blaze.

"We owe them so much," she said.

"They been a part of our community."



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