The wrecks of two cars and a semi-trailer line the highway.
The wrecks of two cars and a semi-trailer line the highway. ROB BARICH

Five-vehicle smash causes fires

A WOMAN was airlifted with multiple head and chest injuries after a five-vehicle crash at a notorious accident blackspot on the Bruce Highway yesterday morning.

Police believe two vehicles, a northbound car being driven by an 80-year-old man and a southbound semi-trailer, collided on the Isis River Bridge, 16km south of Childers, about 11.30am.

After that initial impact, the truck collided with two more cars and rolled over just metres past the bridge, then burst into flames about 20 seconds after the 40-year-old driver escaped the wreckage.

A fifth car suffered minor damage in the mayhem.

Nearby bushlands also caught fire in the dry and breezy conditions, and the ensuing blaze took hold and persisted throughout the evening.

A police spokesman said the 29-year-old woman driver of one of the vehicles received multiple head and chest injuries and possible fractures.

She was conscious while airlifted to Bundaberg Hospital, after she was freed from the vehicle by Childers fire-fighters using the jaws of life.

Childers fire captain Col Santacaterina said the entrapment was of top priority when they arrived on the scene soon after the accident, before they focused on putting the growing blaze out.

“We split our resources after (the trapped woman was freed),” he said.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service workers were on scene, including Childers and Buxton Rural Fire-fighters, a Bundaberg heavy rescue squad, and police and ambulance staff.

The highway was closed to traffic in both directions for almost two hours as a lane was cleared to deal with the congestion.

A number of State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers got involved in traffic control, advising motorists at barricades on either end of the scene of the accident and warning them to expect delays.

Childers SES volunteer Wade Smith was on the north side of the bridge shortly after the accident and told motorists they could wait for the accident to be cleared, or they would have to turn back.

Debris from the vehicles and a cargo of burnt and broken watermelons from the smouldering truck, which remained on the side of the road into the late afternoon, had to be cleared.

A police spokesman said the crash was now under investigation.

The initial fire was under control by 1.40pm, as traffic started to move through the site, but it flared up again later.

Local fire-fighting units still remained at the fire at 9pm last night.



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