WOOLOOGA FIRE: 'Five more minutes and my house was gone'
PHIL and Julie Bedford have been Woolooga residents for 40 years, but they have never seen anything like the terrifying bushfire that came within inches of their home this week.
They were in Gympie on Wednesday morning when they received news they had long been expecting: wild flames raging on their 80-acre (32ha) property and threatening to leave their Pike St residence in its wake.
Mr Bedford said they returned just in time to alert fire crews of the impending disaster and get their pet horses inside.
FULL WOOLOOGA FIRE COVERAGE
"We could just see the flames coming across the hill. We rang 000 and they said there wouldn't be any trucks for 10 minutes, and I said 'I've only got about 10 minutes before it hits here'," the retired quarter horse breaker said.
"The fire was just about to hit the house and the truck came in and saved the house, nothing else would have saved it.
"I've got a tractor with sprays and all that but that was no good.
"About five more minutes and the house would have been gone.
"We have a couple of horses, and as soon as we got in we put them in the yard, we had to cut the fence to let the fire truck in.
"I've got a shed full of machinery and equipment and it's completely done. The horses have no feed now, it's all burnt out."
Mr Bedford said he had been preparing their property for bushfires for a long time before Wednesday's events.
He said while the emotional impact of the fire had been devastating, he and his wife would bounce back.
"I've been crying, I'm supposed to be tough, I used to break in horses and ride the rodeos and be a professional boxer, and this has just got to me.
"We had the biggest floods in 100 years here a couple of years ago and we got devastated, but it's just all come through so fast.
"I've been broken before, I've been doing this for a long time. We'll get through it."
Grab tomorrow's The Gympie Times for a four-page pictorial and coverage detailing the full impact of the Woolooga bushfires.