Close call with fire which destroyed 6.5km of fencing

THE Buckhams had never seen anything like the fast-moving fire that tore through their property last year, so much that it looked like a "lava flow".

It was more than just a miracle that saw them escape the devastating blaze without any structural damage.

They owe it to the efforts of rural firefighters and locals who stood and fought by their side at Callemondah in Tarome in November.

 

 

But the beef cattle farmers lost about six-and-a-half km of fencing with plenty more compromised.

They also lost a horse and two head of cattle.

They estimated the damage to be in the realm of several hundred thousand dollars.

Cate Buckham said it took 48 hours to extinguish the edge of the fire to ensure structures on the property were safe and they were still on the firefront for another 17 days after.

Husband Dick is the first officer of the Tarome Rural Fire Brigade.

"My great grandfather owned the property before we did," she said.

"It's been a lifetime (spent) there.

"We had a very big fire in '03, it started over on Cunninghams Gap. It went through the mountains for three weeks and for 21 days and night were on that thing, it was enormous.

"I can tell you today that '03 fire was just a pup.

"This thing that came at us, it came over Mount Mistake like lava flow."

The rebuilding process has begun and the pair has spent about $30,000 so far getting fencing back in place.

They hope to get up to $75,000 through Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, which was made available to Scenic Rim farmers this week.

They are unsure how much of the destroyed or compromised fencing they will be able to re-do, especially on the western side of their property which is bordered by national park and virtually "inaccessible".

"The contractor came in and started fencing so we could actually get cattle behind wire and horses behind wire," Mrs Buckham said.

"From the amount we've spent, we haven't made a start yet.

"We don't know how much we're going to replace. If we replace everything that was compromised it would be several hundred thousand dollars."

The Buckhams had trucked nine decks of cattle to north Queensland early last year because of drought, so very few were left on the property when the fire hit.

Mrs Buckham said funding would come as a "great relief" but said most of all she is thankful to the work of fireys and friends who stuck by their side.

 

Tarome Rural Fire Brigde first officer and cattle farmer Dick Buckham. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Tarome Rural Fire Brigde first officer and cattle farmer Dick Buckham. Picture: Cordell Richardson

 

Welcome rainfall in recent weeks almost covered up the fact that the horrifying blaze had ever existed.

But Mrs Buckham warned the next fire season could be even worse.

"They just never gave up," she said.

"The property, other than the fences, you would never know that we were burnt.

"We've got feed. Due to the dry, people that were not going to sell their cattle eventually had to.

"So no one has got any livestock or very few and suddenly we've got a lot of rain. There's nothing eating on it so the grass is growing and the price in the market has gone through the roof.

"Look out for next fire season."

Scenic Rim MP Jon Krause blamed the State Government for "delays" getting local farmers recovery funding in the wake of bushfires.

The government grants of up to $75,000 were made available to bushfire-impacted farmers in Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset local government areas this week.

"I have fought for this cash assistance to be activated for farmers since November when it was clear some of them desperately needed help," he said.

"The Queensland Government's efforts in putting the case to the Federal Government was woefully inadequate.

"It seems they spoke to almost nobody out here to find out about their losses.

"Four weeks ago even low level assistance wasn't made available."

Mr Krause said the Buckham's situations was just one of many similar stories.

"They're just one of several dozen farmers in my electorate," he said.

For more information on the eligibility for primary producer grants contact the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority on 1800 623 946.


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