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Late Christmas for firies after blaze delays plans

Christmas came late for Takura rural firefighters (back) Peter Murphy, Jack Luchjenbroers, (front) Jill Luchjenbroers, Sarah Murphy, Linda Rangeley, Ken Stanton and James Murphy who were among the numerous crews fighting the Black Swamp Creek fire on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. They are pictured celebrating in Ken Stanton's bar.
Christmas came late for Takura rural firefighters (back) Peter Murphy, Jack Luchjenbroers, (front) Jill Luchjenbroers, Sarah Murphy, Linda Rangeley, Ken Stanton and James Murphy who were among the numerous crews fighting the Black Swamp Creek fire on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. They are pictured celebrating in Ken Stanton's bar. Robyne Cuerel

KEN Stanton's beer was still there on his table when he returned home from battling bushfires at Sunshine Acres.

Too warm to drink, he had opened it 24 hours earlier on Christmas Day and taken just one "swig" before his phone rang.

The voice on the other end told him about a small fire that had flared up in his "patch".

By the time he reached the site near the Maryborough-Hervey Bay Rd roundabout with fellow Rural Fire Brigade volunteer Sarah Murphy, that small blaze had become a monster.

"I contacted fire communications and requested additional units," Mr Stanton said.

"Then altogether there were 10 rural units, the urban guys and some additional units."

Like others who battled the blaze, Mr Stanton surrendered his opportunity to spend Christmas with his friends and family to fight the fire.

But it was his actions on his Boxing Day return that were those of a typical Queenslander.

"When he came home he went straight out to the table and said, 'can I have my beer now?'," his partner, Linda Rangeley, said.

On Friday, Mr Stanton, Ms Rangeley and the eight other members who were first to the Black Swamp Ck inferno belatedly celebrated Christmas together.

They gathered in Mr Stanton's home bar, dined on a spread of turkey, ham, pork and vegetables, and when the host once again raised the beer he never got to finish, they prayed the phone wouldn't ring.

Topics:  bushfire, christmas day, firefighters, fires, fraser coast, maryborough-hervey bay rd, rural, sunshine acres, takura


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