Boy's quick thinking saves town from fire

Eli Lee, 11, raised the alarm and used buckets to help put out a fire at Calliope.
Eli Lee, 11, raised the alarm and used buckets to help put out a fire at Calliope. MIKE RICHARDS

WHEN 11-year-old Eli Lee saw a fire down the road from his house, he ran home to get buckets from his garage.

The Calliope State School student was riding his bike around his street in Monterey Way when he smelt smoke and found a grassfire in the gully.

"I was like 'uh-oh'. I ran home and told Dad and got buckets," he said.

"Mum filled them up with water from the lake and I put it out."

Eli's mother Julie, his sister Mikaela and his father and Rural Fire Brigade volunteer Derrick joined members of the public and neighbours, getting the job done before the fire brigade arrived.

Although it was a slow-moving fire, Mrs Lee said her son's sense of urgency had been vital to the successful result.

"He was back home in a flash, bashing on the door yelling 'Dad there's a fire!'," she said.

"He knows what fires can do - with his dad being a firie."

Calliope Rural Fire Brigade first officer Keith Hill said Eli was a legend.

Mr Hill was called out to the fire near Monterey Way but Eli had already taken care of it.

Three fire trucks responded to the call which was deemed a stage three wildfire case.

"We got there in five minutes but it was completely out," he said.

"He did a wonderful job. Nothing needed to be done."

Mr Hill said without Eli's quick thinking the fire could have had much more damage.

"It could have been really bad. We would have been chasing it behind the houses in Calliope," he said.

Mr Hill said the fire was suspicious.

Monterey Way resident Kellie Murphy said it had all happened so quickly.

She said when she saw the flames she grabbed her two children and joined the community effort.

"My first thought was 'I have washing on the line and it's going to stink like smoke!'," she laughed.

"I didn't do much. I had the girls on my hip and I watched the rest of them in the water getting muddy.

"That family took control. They were all over it."

Mr Lee was pleased with his son's initiative - a fireman in the making, he said.

"I am very proud of him and the way the community banded together to help, too," he said.

"He gets in and gives anything a go.

"Eli has been in the fire truck before and he goes to the shed whenever we can."

Eli said even though he wasn't allowed to go on jobs with his dad, he had put out fires.

"I think being a firie would be cool," he said. "I put nanna's fire out in Benaraby once. I was seven or eight years old.

"Fires are cool to cook marshmallows on, too."

Another hero story from a reader:

Last year my son was was walking home from school and there was a girl caught in the drain.

It had been raining for days and the water was up to the girl's neck. He pulled her out of the drain and saved her life.

I was so proud of him. He didn't even tell me about it. My daughter did.

He didn't even think he had done something special, but like I said to him, he saved her life. I am very proud of him.

- Lauren Salisbury

Topics:  calliope editors picks fire hero qfrs

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