Fraser Island is burning but the fight to save Happy Valley has been helped by some overnight rain.
Fraser Island is burning but the fight to save Happy Valley has been helped by some overnight rain.

Desperate hands-on defence as inferno closes in

Keeping a threatening bushfire at bay might not have been in the job description of Fraser Island Retreat's new manager Darren Smith, but he stepped into the breach with hose in hand to defend the Happy Valley property.

Mr Smith said the fire came within 50m of the usually idyllic resort as water bombing aircraft pulled out all stops.

He has only been in charge of the venue for less than two months.

The Fraser Island Retreat at Happy Valley was defended by a firebombing helicopter.
The Fraser Island Retreat at Happy Valley was defended by a firebombing helicopter.

The retreat had been without paying guests for at least a week as strong winds pushed the fire front closer.

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Mr Smith said some staff had stayed on as firefighting teams co-ordinated the defence of the settlements.

"It (the fire) certainly got within … it must have been 50m or so yesterday, that's when it all hit," he said.

"I was manning a hose mostly just looking for embers that might drift in.

"It got sort of all sides of us really, there was plenty of action."

Fire crews were on the ground to help defend Happy Valley properties.
Fire crews were on the ground to help defend Happy Valley properties.

He said he and the remaining staff were being advised by firefighting experts.

"They always seemed confident," Mr Smith said.

"It did rain last night … it certainly looks pretty wet out there this morning so I'd say we got a fair bit.

"It looks overcast and hopefully there's more rain, we don't know the status of the fire yet until we get the morning briefing."

Mr Smith said normally the resort would be hosting 50 or 60 guests and 13 staff.


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