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Battling Bushfires: Volunteer firefighter tells story from the frontlines

It’s been an intense and exhausting fortnight for Ipswich volunteer firefighter Ken Leisemann.

He’s one of dozens of volunteers from across Ipswich who have been sent out to fight some of the biggest bushfires in the state’s history, from Binna Burra to Canungra and other parts of the Gold Coast.

“It was like hell on earth out there,” Mr Leisemann said.

“The whole week has been unpredictable, sleepless and emotional.”

The Marburg Brigade member and Deputy Group officer of the Ipswich group of firefighters worked through several nights with his crew to save homes.

“Unfortunately we lost four houses, but we probably saved about twenty,” he said. 

“You just can’t underestimate the role of volunteers in these situations.”

36,000 Rural Fire Service volunteers assist the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services during bushfires and other emergency events.

Volunteers have helped to battle fires right across the south-east over the past 10 days, from Riverview to Ripley, Frazerview, Peregian and several blazes across the Gold Coast Hinterland and Scenic Rim.

An emergency was also briefly declared at Redbank Plains on Tuesday afternoon before fire crews contained the blaze, which was sparked when a ute crashed into a tree.

Mr Leisemann said it would be impossible for volunteers to do it without the support of their loved ones.

“I have such a supportive family, and you need that – you just can’t do it without it,” Mr Leisemann said.

“I’ve got two young kids at home, so it takes a lot of understanding when you’re working all through the night, or you’re called out at 2am on your RDO.”

Firefighting conditions have improved across the region, thanks to 5-10mm of rain on Tuesday.

But a total fire ban remains in force for the entire Ipswich area, as well as the Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim, Logan and Gold Coast. 

If there’s a fire in your area, follow the bushfire warnings:​

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