NO REST IN SIGHT: Brett Nagel from the Rural Fire Brigade makes his way through the devastation on Spicers Gap Rd. Picture: Annette Dew.
NO REST IN SIGHT: Brett Nagel from the Rural Fire Brigade makes his way through the devastation on Spicers Gap Rd. Picture: Annette Dew.

‘NATURE AT ITS WORST’: Spicers Lodge staff flee fire

NIGHTMARE conditions are causing a dangerous bushfire to tear through Spicers Gap, threatening the luxury resort, Spicers Peak Lodge.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services warned staff of the looming threat three days ago when strong winds began to accelerate the fire.

A firebreak was put in to contain the blaze but it broke through earlier this morning.

Spicers Retreats managing director David Assef said it was a sad day for the group as they faced the incineration of their 8000 hectare Maryvale property.

“It was the first property in the Spicers Group, built around 15 years ago,” he said.

“It’s quite sentimental to the family and all of us here that have worked at the lodge for over 10 years.

“But ultimately we know that buildings can be replaced – it’s our people that are the priority.”

Guests and staff started to evacuate the property on QFES advice over 48 hours ago, with the final remaining staff locking up the property yesterday morning.

Staff living in nearby areas have returned home, while emergency accommodation has been sourced for others.

DESTRUCTION: Brett Nagel from the Rural Fire Brigade surveys damage on Spicers Gap Rd. Picture: Annette Dew.
DESTRUCTION: Brett Nagel from the Rural Fire Brigade surveys damage on Spicers Gap Rd. Picture: Annette Dew.

Despite the dire warnings, Mr Assef said he remained quietly optimistic.

“Being a remote property we have pretty robust plans and procedures,” he said.

“We’ve ensured all our systems are working, we’ve watered down the area around the lodges and swept through the escarpment.

“All of our fire equipment is working and left on to battle the fire if and when it hits.”

A large clearing of land, “still a little bit green”, will act as an additional barrier between the fire and the lodge.

“But the really sad thing is the wildlife,” Mr Assef said.

“We put a lot of time and effort into the preservation of this area and to see it hit by these catastrophic conditions is devastating.

“We think it will eventually regenerate but when it’s moving at such fast speeds and creating so much collateral damage it’s very sad.

“It’s nature at its very worst.”

The fate of the lodge should become clearer around midday, according to Mr Assef.

“The winds right now aren’t too bad and there’s a chance they could turn the fire back on itself,” he said.

“But we’ll just have to wait and see.”

DOING WHAT THEY CAN: Brett Nagel and Bruce Wagner fight the blaze at Spicers Gap Rd. Picture: Annette Dew.
DOING WHAT THEY CAN: Brett Nagel and Bruce Wagner fight the blaze at Spicers Gap Rd. Picture: Annette Dew.