Inspector Bernie Massingham.
Inspector Bernie Massingham.

Beastly blaze teaches fire boss a few lessons

ONE man on the front lines of three of the most destructive blazes to burn the region since 2017 has no doubt the Coast will light up again.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services North Coast Region Inspector Bernie Massingham said the entire Sunshine Coast remained in a high fire danger area, keeping firefighters on edge.

"We're being vigilant right across the Coast," Inspector Massingham said.

He said a number of crews and appliances would remain in the Peregian Springs area for the coming days to attend any spot fires and reassure the community.

"They've been through a hellish ordeal."

A monstrous and devastating fire ripped through Peregian Springs, Peregian Breeze and Peregian Beach heading north towards Marcus Beach and Noosa. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
A monstrous and devastating fire ripped through Peregian Springs, Peregian Breeze and Peregian Beach heading north towards Marcus Beach and Noosa. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

The ferocity of this week's blaze challenged even the most seasoned firefighters.

Insp Massingham, who also played a critical role in the large Caloundra South bushfire in August, 2017, and was also involved in fighting the Coolum and Peregian blaze in January, 2017, said the main difference between those fires and Monday's bushfire that threatened to destroy Peregian Beach was the intensity of the winds, which blew south-westerly.

"That really drove the fire," Insp Massingham said.

The Caloundra South fire was also much easier, in a still relatively undeveloped estate.

"It made it more difficult (this week) because obviously structures, people's lives and livelihoods, were at stake," he said.

"It was such a fast-moving fire.

"It continued to enhance the risks."

Emergency Services fight to control the fire at Peregian. Aircraft fight the fire from the air.
Emergency Services fight to control the fire at Peregian. Aircraft fight the fire from the air.

Insp Massingham said he believed the structured approach to tackling this week's fire, by sectoring the job, had laid the platform for success.

He said a "massive debrief" would be held to look into the efforts of the past week.

"We've got a lot of activities from this particular job to be proud of," Insp Massingham said.

But he said there would still be things to learn from the efforts, for the undoubted next time a major bushfire broke out in the region.

"Employing tactics that are specific for each job is important," he said.

"It's hard to compare jobs."

Insp Massingham said the iZone areas, parts of the region where bushland met urban infrastructure, were the highest risk zones ahead of what was set to be a testing fire season.

The northern side of Mount Coolum, Noosa, Maleny, Montville, hinterland areas and Buderim were all identified as possible bushfire hot spots.