12yo boy drives family car to survive raging Wheatbelt fire
“The fire jumped into the house paddock and then, once it got into there, Lucas was told to go down to the orange tree, which was about three or four kilometres away, but when he got there and stayed for 10 minutes, there was a fire on the other side of the road,” Ivan told Nine News Perth.
His family went to find him but he wasn’t there, so they immediately raised the alarm with firefighters and police on the ground.
“It was very chaotic; lots of smoke, lots of fire,” volunteer firefighter Craig Spencer said.
“It was good he (Ivan) came and found us as well to let us know … because of the advantage of the radio network, we got on to all of the networks, so everyone knew to keep an eye out for him.”
Within an hour firefighters managed to track Lucas down after they found the manual vehicle parked on a main road away from the fire.
“It was a pretty scary environment… visibility was low, the flames were high,” Mr Spencer said.
“Where he was parked up was a good position to be in, but 10 minutes after that, that road was under direct attack.”
The volunteer firefighters took Lucas to the police blockade, where he was later reunited with his family.
“He did a good job, he could drive a manual better than me. I haven’t driven a manual for 12 years so he’s a smart kid,” Mr Spencer said.
Authorities stressed the incident highlighted the importance of residents in fire-prone areas to be aware of their escape routes in case of emergencies.
“Know your plan, know where to get to for safety and know how to contact each other so that everybody can check in to know that you’re safe,” Dallwallinu Police Sgt Mike Daley said.
Lucas’s brother and father were thankful for the joint effort by emergency services to find him after an emotional reunion with the fire survivor.
“There were a few tears, yeah… it was just one big relief,” Ivan said.