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Church members on the frontline of Canungra fires

Rev David Hawke, minister at Beaudesert and Districts (Canungra) Uniting Churches, describes how the recent fire crisis unfolded in the Scenic Rim Region of South East Queensland.

Nearly three weeks ago on a Tuesday night I was standing in the yard outside the home where our young adults meet. The fire front was young and heading slowly north towards the house.

There was an uneasiness in the air. The eastern side of the road up to O’Reilly’s is mostly bush. After our get-together I drove up the road to get a better view of what the fire was doing.

While threatening, it was far from vicious. That would change. That fire front would soon swirl against the walls of the house where we had been meeting.

Over the next day or two the winds caught that fire front. It travelled south towards two more of our church families. It is hard to picture how a fire can suddenly become aggressive and dangerous.

I stood alongside Steve Moriarty as he fought the fire which had come so close to his house. He pointed to where the fire had been travelling along the valley floor and then in an explosive burst shot to the top of a ridge—I would estimate 500 metres high, in just 30 seconds.

Steve’s wife Silvana saw her husband overtaken by thick swirling smoke. She never expected to see him again and did the only thing she could—she prayed. Steve on more than one occasion thought he would not make it out.

Thank God, he did. Many prayers were answered in this event.

In the Canungra Church many families were affected. Some were evacuated not knowing if they would have a home to return to, others stayed and fought the fire alongside volunteers from the Rural Fire Service.

As a church we set up a hub distributing water and food. Nearly three weeks after the first report of fire, we sent a team up the valley offering more food, a chat, and a range of services available through our church.

Rain has fallen. The fires are out. More rain will break the drought and we will be left with a community that is closer, more appreciative of each other, and thankful no lives were lost.

Rev David Hawke

Visit the Queensland Synod website for information on how you can support the disaster relief appeal.

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