FARMERS rushed to dig firebreaks as they joined firefighters in a tense six hour battle to contain a fire north of Mareeba yesterday.
The fire was at Springs Rd, Paddys Green, north of Mareeba.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service received a call at 1.37pm to attend the large bushfire which quickly spread across two properties about 6km outside Mareeba.
Crews were able to bring the northern end of the blaze under control, but they could not gain access to the southern side without a four-wheel-drive.
Fifteen firefighters with five fire trucks from the urban and rural fire brigade teamed up with three local landholders who assisted with tractors to dig containment lines, halting the fire from reaching nearby sugar cane, and hay paddocks.
"This time of year it is very unusual to have a fire of this size," scene officer-in-charge Barry Keal said.
"It was very intense – we couldn’t fight it by hand.
"We had to pull back and put in containment lines." The fire, which a QFRS spokesman described as "too big for knapsacks and blowers", crossed wood and swamp, coming within metres of pasture and cattle.
Joe Cadillo said he noticed smoke about 2km from his home about 10.30 to 11am yesterday morning.
"I thought I could handle it with my son but the wind got too strong and the fire front became too large," Mr Cadillo said. "We had already busted one of the hoses on our hydraulic tractor."
He described the fire as frightening, saying it could have ruined a lot of pasture – 25ha acres of ready-to-be-baled hay, and destroyed thousands of dollars of irrigation.
"I would like to thank the fire brigade and auxiliaries who were absolutely marvellous and worked on it all day," he said.
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