Home gutted by fire, residents escape to safety
LATEST: FIREFIGHTERS speedy response to a devastating house fire in West Mackay on Australia Day has saved two bordering homes from destruction.
However, the Johnson Street home was apparently completely gutted after a fire is thought to have originated in a shed.
The owner of the home, Sonia Ball, thanked crews who put out the blaze.
"I cried with great relief that no one was hurt," Ms Ball said.
"Now that the smoke has cleared I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the firies, the police and the ambos.
"Not everyone in the world has such committed emergency services - God bless you all, this is just one of the reasons I am so proud to be an Australian.
"When the chips are down, we can always count on our mates, our families and all of you."
No one was injured in the fire, however, said Station Officer at Mackay Fire Station Ian Kelly.
He praised his firefighters for their work in overwhelmingly hot conditions.
"At 12.47 we got called out to a shed fire on Johnson Street. On our arrival, the house was fully involved. The fire started in the garage," he said.
"At that stage, the houses either side were under threat so we went in to protect those. All residents were out of the house and once we got the homes protected we went in to do fire suppression.
"The house on one of the sides, the left, was becoming heat affected and charring, so that was our priority, as anyone in the house on fire, the survivability rate was zero."
Mr Kelly said firefighters confirmed as soon as they arrived that no people were in the home.
"I'm not quite sure (whether there was a dog in the backyard) but we're doing a secondary search and at this stage the animals haven't been found," he said.
"Everyone's been accounted for, we've done a primary and a secondary search …
"Investigation will be done by Queensland police and our fire investigators and that will possibly be taken out tomorrow."
Three plain clothes police detectives were in Johnson Street during the fire.
Mr Kelly was unable to say whether this was normal, considering the situation.
Queensland Ambulance were keeping a close eye on firefighters while they worked, likely due to a real risk of dehydration in the conditions.
"It was a very hot day … straight away we knew it was going to be a big job," Mr Kelly said.
"There's a lot of resources here to look after our guys. They've done really well in this heat.
"We had Queensland Ambulance here to assist us in case any firefighters were injured. Especially with how hot it is, with our gear on, entering a home on fire, the priority is to make sure our guys are safe."
Paul Tilse, who lives across the road from the home which burnt down, said he "got home and all action was already happening".
"It was a bit scary when I got home, we really didn't know what was going on," he said.
"We could see the smoke coming from the home but there's three or four firetrucks and an ambulance right in our front yard, basically, so my wife and I were a bit worried.
"We know the people there a little bit. I did see the three kids (I think live there) on the corner, but I haven't seen their mum and dad. Though, there was quite a few people there."
Brendan, who also lives across the road and asked for his last name to be withheld, said he woke with a start when he heard the fire "crackling and popping".
"I was having a sleep and I heard the noise. I thought it was fireworks or something going off," he said.
"So I stuck my head out and saw the back corner of the house was up."
He said emergency services hadn't arrived at the time, but raced into the street minutes later.
"They were here within a couple of minutes. My wife called the firies' and by the time I got over with the hose and whatever on the other house they weren't far behind."
Brendan said "there might have been a dog out the back(yard)".
"But they (emergency services) were holding the kids back by that stage because there was smoke everywhere, you couldn't go near the place," he said.
He described Johnson Street as a pretty tight knit little community and wished his neighbours all the best.
UPDATE 1.30pm: Everyone is believed to be out of the house after a fire started in a home in West Mackay about 12.45pm Thursday.
Fire crews immediately worked to protecting neighbouring properties, as the house was well engulfed by the time they arrived.
Queensland Ambulance is also on the scene and Ergon has cut power to the home.
The fire was brought under control at 1.25pm but is still burning.
The street is under a blanket of smoke.
INITIAL: Firefighters are racing to put out a house fire in Johnson St, West Mackay.
The house is thought to be engulfed in flames, and police are closing streets in the area.
Three fire crews are outside the home. Police have blocked off the road.
At 1.15pm the fire appears to be still out of control. Flames can be seen at the front of the house where most of the activity is.
It is unclear if there was anyone in the house.
More to come.