Frances and Kev Kay at the remains of their daughter's campsite.
Frances and Kev Kay at the remains of their daughter's campsite. Renee Pilcher

Fire destroys Muster camp

MUSTER campers were rallying to replace a site destroyed by a gas bottle explosion on Wednesday that ripped through an annex seconds after the occupants escaped.

Kia Ora’s Kev and Frances Kay were visiting their daughter and son-in-law Leanne and John Chapman at Amamoor Creek Campgrounds when the accident happened about 9am.

Mrs Chapman suffered minor burns and was taken to Gympie Hospital by ambulance.

She was released shortly after treatment for “serious sunburn-type burns to her forearms”.

Her mother, Mrs Kay, was lucky to escape injury, despite receiving singes to her short permed hair.

The women had been disconnecting a fridge gas bottle inside the annex when “gas went everywhere”.

In fewer than 20 seconds the whole campsite was engulfed in flames.

Fellow campers raced to help the couple using buckets and a hose.

Quick-thinking campers pushed Mr and Mrs Kay’s Subaru Forester away from the blaze before it could catch fire, but the headlights melted under the intense heat.

A Forestry Plantations Qld crew had been driving past in a water truck on their way to a burn-off when they heard the explosion.

They put the blaze out in a matter of minutes, ending any possibility of the fire spreading to nearby campsites and paddocks before Gympie Fire and Rescue were able to attend.

“There were a few champions here already putting it out with buckets and a garden hose,” forestry worker Athol Hales said.

Investigating officer Senior Constable Bill Greer of Imbil Police said the fire was not suspicious.

He said Mrs Chapman, 51, had been taken to hospital to be treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation.

Acknowledging how close it had been, Mrs Kay said she felt extremely fortunate to not have been injured at all. The 74-year-old lost her mother in a house fire when she was just a child living in Goomeri, so Wednesday’s experience hit close to home.

“As soon as we saw the flame go up the annex we knew we had to get out,” she said. “I don’t like fires.”

Mr and Mrs Chapman’s camping neighbours were yesterday rallying around to find them temporary camping gear so they could continue to enjoy the Muster.

Gympie Muster Ltd promised to find accommodation for the couple, who had not missed a festival in 10 years.

Mr Chapman was relieved his wife’s injuries were not more severe. “She has a singed fringe and no eyebrows. We’ve lost all our stuff but at least Leanne’s alive.

“The camper trailer is insured but the contents weren’t. My best western gear can be replaced, I suppose.

“We were just having a scrape through the rubble and found Leanne’s rings. Another thing we’ve salvaged is my esky still with half a dozen stubbies in it. And there’s still ice!”

New clothes were purchased in Mary St yesterday while Mr Chapman caught up with the pub crawl at Billy’s.

“The Muster organisation is putting us up in a motel tonight and looking at alternative accommodation if we want to stay, but it depends on how Leanne feels,” he said.

Gympie Times


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