RELENTLESS: When their teammate snapped the photo, Pete Farrar and Mark Calleja were only halfway into a 14-hour mission.
RELENTLESS: When their teammate snapped the photo, Pete Farrar and Mark Calleja were only halfway into a 14-hour mission.

‘I was terrified’: Lockyer firey’s story behind winning photo

"THE smoke gets in your eyes and then your lungs - and the heat is just so oppressive."

That's how Pete Farrar felt when a photo was snapped of him and his mate, fighting a fire in Mulgowie.

Each week, the Gatton Star posts the most popular photo taken by its readers.

Normally, the winning photo is one depicting sunsets, wildlife and landscapes.

But one photo was a little different and drew an overwhelming portion of the vote.

Just a year in the role as a volunteer firefighter, Pete was sent with two of his colleagues to the Mulgowie fire in October.

"We were one of the original crews to be called from Hatton Vale, we were responding with other crews when the fire first hit," Pete said.

When they arrived on scene, the state of the fire was unbelievable.

"We got there and it was just absolutely horrific," he said.

"It was massive."

The fireys were briefed and told to hold the fire, and to use the road as a containment line.

But the reality was different, as strong winds carried embers far, causing new spot fires to start up.

"It just jumped over the top of us," he said.

"Fires were starting on the other side of the road because of the embers."

By that stage, there were five crews battling the blaze and the situation seemed almost hopeless.

"We were racing like chickens with our heads cut off," Pete said.

"(We were) trying to douse out the flames as soon as they would pop up - at that time it was really bad."

As water bombing helicopters buzzed overhead and in the midst of the flames, Pete's teammate Matt snapped a picture.

"It was just after the height of the fire - we had it controlled a bit and were letting it burn," he said.

"Because once it had burnt the fuel out, the fire would no longer be a big risk to us."

Pete's estimated crews stayed on for 13 or 14 hours.

"(We were) absolutely drained - just tired," he said.

"You get covered in the ash … The gear we wear is really good but you get so hot wearing it so you're just sweating the whole time."


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