'Fireball' trashes man's Gympie home as bush ignites
"I've never felt heat or seen flames like it,” East Deep Creek bushfire survivor Daryl Watson said as he stood in the ashes of his home.
Mr Watson was on fire when he was dragged out of the holocaust by three fire brigade volunteers who just happened to be at a meeting nearby and heard his calls for help.
That was his million-to-one chance and it is the only reason he is still alive.
But first, he saved his dog, a loyal border collie named Jet.
"How I found the strength to lift him up, he's about 60kg, but I got the pump going and hosed him and hosed myself and ran through the flames.
"I put him in the ute and drove to where I knew it was safe. I left him in the cabin, with the air con on,” he said.
"I just heard this almighty roar,” he said, when asked how it started, exactly two weeks ago.
"I smelled the smoke and thought, 'They can't be just burning off.'
Then it was upon him.
Jet ran into a shipping container, seeking shelter in what would soon be an oven.
"He's 15 years old and I saved his life. He's been a good dog.
"I thought, 'I'm gonna go back.' I probably shouldn't have. I was cautious but when I came back around the caravan it was really burning.
"As I've come around here,” he said, standing where his orchids and veges once grew, "this fireball picked me up and threw me down. It was amazing the force of it...
"The hose I was holding burned into my hand and all I remember is I couldn't get any air. "I remembered the saying, 'Go low and get going,' so I did and I got some air.
"I just crawled under the caravan, whether that was a good thing or not. I couldn't see anything.
"I'd yelled out a few times and, just by luck, three firies were over on the next ridge having their general meeting - and they heard me.
"A passer by stopped and one side of his car was melted. He saved my life too.
"When they dragged me out, my boots and my cap were on fire,” he said.
"It just wasn't my time.
"The firies have come back and told me my mowing saved a few houses around here, but I couldn't save mine,” he said.
"The heat partly melted the (plastic) water tank and pipes and the water's putrid. I can't drink it.
"The Salvation army has been keeping me supplied with bottled water and now I'm off to Vinnies to see if they've got any clothes that fit me.
The problem, he said, was a small area of publicly owned land on the other side of his front fence, an area he thought the council would have maintained.
"But they haven't done anything like what they expect of everyone else,” he said.