'Wall of flames' destroys 99% of property
IT WAS the intense wind that drove the fire through Bradley and Ann-Maree Pike's cattle property on Smith Rd, ripping through nine tenths of their 700 acre (283ha) property last Wednesday.
Mr Pike, who had been at a meeting in Brisbane tried to get home, only to be blocked by police who closed the main roads through Woolooga on Thursday.
Mrs Pike watched the fire return on Thursday, and from when it crossed the cattle grid of their driveway, it took just 15 minutes to travel the one kilometre to the house yard.
"It was just a wall of flames," Mrs Pike said.
"We were watching it come up here and not knowing that we could get out anywhere."
Bearing down on a smaller nearby house on the property, the family, including the Pike's three children, used garden hoses to battle the lapping flames.
Mrs Pike said she could not let it burn, or she knew if it did the main house metres away would not stand a chance from the extra heat.
"We would have lost both if we had let it go," Mrs Pike said.
"The kids were hosing the roof."
Miraculously the houses were saved, as were the 100 head of cattle who were cornered into a small grass-less area around a water trough.
"We had cattle in the back paddock and I didn't know how they survived," Mrs Pike said.
"I found them in the little corner where they drink from the water trough.
"They were scorched up their back rump."
While the Pikes face the immeasurable task of repairing kilometres of fencing in rugged country and caring for their cattle who have lost 99% of their grazing land, the tremendous community support they have already received has made the initial days manageable.
The Pike children's school community at Cooloola Christian College sourced and organised hay delivery, while the staff from Vanderfield Gympie, where the Pikes buy and service farming equipment, spent Saturday rebuilding a crucial 1km paddock fence.
"We've got a lot of people to thank," Mrs Pike said.
"It's really overwhelming how much support we've had from everyone. You don't know how many friends you have until something like this happens." Mr Pike said if you ever question why you shop locally or why you send your kids to a school with a good community, this shows why.
"This is why we do it - it's such a great community."