Cairns residents ready to flee as blaze nears homes
A MANOORA woman has told how she packed her bags and was preparing to flee with her two-year-old daughter as a large grass fire at Manoora came within metres of her home on Saturday.
"You could see the ashes flying through the yard and you could hear the cracks of the fire," Lydia Metuarau said.
"I was home with my daughter. I had packed my bags just in case."
Residents along Conlan and Grantalla St lined the streets looking on with concern as fire crews monitored the blaze for several hours. Cairns fire station officer Ian Fulton said officers believed it began after a campfire in the swamp area got out of control several days ago.
"We'd been going there for a few days so we made the decision to backburn and reduce the fuel load," he said.
"With the wind yesterday, it was coming from the southeast, it increased through the day and caused the fire to spread (from the tree-line) to the grass.
"We had to come and protect the fences along Grantalla St."
Ms Metuarau said she had kept daughter Lowani inside with the doors locked and airconditioning on as smoke blanketed the area.
The Department of Community Safety had issued a warning just after noon, urging residents to stay inside.
Crews were also kept busy yesterday with another grass fire at Woree, near Cannon Park, which Mr Fulton said was "suspicious".
A lack of rain during November and December and hot conditions has created a higher fire danger across the Far North.
However there may be a reprieve today with the weather bureau predicting heavy showers.
"There's a trough approaching in the Coral Sea and that is going to increase rainfall in the coastal areas," Cairns duty forecaster Liz Heba said.
"We're expecting it to be particularly wet with showers and possible storms. There'll be quite a lot of shower activity around the coast on Tuesday and maybe some isolated storms, but most of them will be in the morning."
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Scorched earth: Lydia Metuarau and her daughter Lowani, 2, survey the blackened scene left after a bushfire raged through grass within metres of her home on Saturday. Picture: MIKE WATT