Dramatic fire rescue
A BUNDABERG man owes his life to his 22-year-old daughter, after she pulled him out from the wrath of a fire when a controlled burn got out of hand.
The weather conditions had been perfect when Neale Lester and his daughter, Tiffany, began a routine burnoff on the family farm at Monduran last Saturday, but they soon encountered trouble when their water pump broke.
"The wind had been going our way, but the wind turned and the fire started going into the neighbour's property," Miss Lester said.
Along with Miss Lester's mother, Vicky, the family worked to try to contain the blaze on the large cattle property.
"My mum and I went to have a rest and dad kept going," Miss Lester said.
The two women quickly became alarmed when they lost sight of Mr Lester, who was in the paddock alone battling the flames and smoke.
"I couldn't see my dad, so I went looking and (found him) stumbling and nearly falling over," she said.
"I think it was just the adrenalin - I just grabbed him and pulled him out of there."
After bringing Mr Lester to safety, his daughter poured cold water over his face and immediately called an ambulance.
"He had smoke inhalation, really bad heat stroke and a few little burns," Miss Lester said.
Mr Lester was taken to the Friendly Society Private Hospital, where it is expected he will remain for a further five days.
"He couldn't really remember anything - he woke up in the hospital and said, 'why am I here?'," Miss Lester said.
Mr Lester now knows if it were not for his daughter, the events of that day could have taken a horrible turn.
"He keeps saying sorry and thank you," Miss Lester said.
But his daughter said despite the dangers she faced by going back into the fire, she would do it all over again for her dad.
"Family comes first - you don't think twice," she said.
"I'm just lucky to have my dad - he's my best friend."
Queensland Fire and Rescue acting area director for rural operations Craig Magick said the Lesters had an appropriate permit on the day of the burn, but highlighted the importance of safety when doing so.
"The conditions can change at any time, and people need to be situationally aware of what's going on around them," he said.
"In that situation when a controlled burn escapes, they need to take themselves out of harm's way and call 000."