Ocean Shores on fire alert

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

OCEAN SHORES resembled a battle zone yesterday, as helicopters roared overhead and the stench of bushfire filled the air.

More than 300 Ocean Shores Primary School children were evacuated, and residents began piling pos- sessions into cars, as fires raged through 100 hectares of nearby forest.

The children were either sent home, or taken to the Ocean Shores Community Centre, after warnings were issued to South Golden Beach residents about 9am to prepare for the worst as the fires raged.

"The principal came onto our school bus and told us all to stay calm," 10year-old Camille Moir said after being dropped back at home.

"Some Year 6 kids started to cry, but I wasn't scared," she said.

Ocean Shores Primary principal Ken Bushell and assistant principal Peter Flannery said the decision to evacuate had been made early as a precaution.

"We hired five Brunswick Valley coaches to ferry kids to the community centre," Mr Flannery said. "The feeling was very calm, although the kids were pretty excited."

A thick haze of smoke from the fires hung over South Golden Beach throughout the day as five helicopters ferried water from the nearby Capricornia Canal to fight fires raging through 100 hectares of bushland in Billinudgel Nature Reserve, south of Jones Road.

With the school children gone, a 40-strong team of Rural Fire Service crew commandeered the building, many still exhausted from fighting fires at Cabarita the day before.

While the RFS said no homes were directly threatened, there was still panic in the morning as police drove down the streets of South Golden Beach about 9.30am with loudspeakers advising residents to prepare to be evacuated.

Rick and Johanna Hill only bought their Shara Boulevard home in June, and were not about to lose it.

"We have sprinklers on the roof and we've filled up the bath and gutters with water," Mrs Hill said. "And we've loaded up the car with photo albums and personal stuff."

Terri, the Hill's cockatiel, was also loaded in the car for safety in her blue bird cage.

"I'm not scared now, but if the winds pick up I will be," Mrs Hill said.

The Ocean Shores fire, which began on Thursday night, was contained on the northern front at Jones Road last night, and 60 crew with 15 trucks were working overnight to back-burn from containment lines on the east and west.

Those efforts would likely increase this morning, when helicopters could be called in assist in slowing down the fire.

Rural fire spokesperson Rebel Talbert said the total fire area was likely to reach 200ha by the time it was contained.

"By (this) morning we're hoping to have the fire burning within containment lines," she said.



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