Surrounded by black smoke and flames approaching, Carlos Cardoso and Rhona Maguire made a dash for their lives. They returned to find everything gone.
Surrounded by black smoke and flames approaching, Carlos Cardoso and Rhona Maguire made a dash for their lives. They returned to find everything gone.

The house was melting: Amazing escape from the inferno

For the past 15 years, Carlos Cardoso and Rhona Maguire lovingly turned their Yorketown house into a home, adding solar panels, tiles, wooden floors, carpets and, most recently, a new television.

But it all went up in flames during Wednesday's bushfire, which razed 5000ha of land and destroyed 11 properties, including the couple's three-acre property.

They had initially been told that no properties were destroyed in the bushfire but returned to their home on Wednesday evening to devastating loss. The only structure left standing was a garden shed and a handful of tools.

"The house was melting, there is no floor, big cracks in the walls … everthing's gone," Mr Cardoso said.

Rhona Maguire and Carlos Cardoso's house was destroyed in the Yorketown fire. Picture supplied by family.
Rhona Maguire and Carlos Cardoso's house was destroyed in the Yorketown fire. Picture supplied by family.

"All the efforts we did over the years is gone."

The couple also lost ducks and chickens in the blaze and Mr Cardoso escaped with only the clothes he was wearing.

The warning came at 3pm on Wednesday when Mrs Maguire's son-in-law rang.

"He said, 'what the f**k are you doing, there are two fires behind your house, get out'," she said.

Mr Cardoso grabbed two pet cats and the pair bolted to the car, but visibility was already low.

"We couldn't see anything from the car, it was black and there was stuff in my throat and I was coughing," Mrs Maguire said.

The monster fire took hold quickly. Picture supplied by family.
The monster fire took hold quickly. Picture supplied by family.

"I said, 'this is it I'm going to die in this car'.

"Carlos just put his foot on the pedal and went for it.

"When we got to the end of the driveway, there were flames from both sides."

Mr Cardoso decided to turn the car to where "the wind was coming from" - and it was a call that saved both their lives.

After driving about 300m, the road ahead was suddenly clear.

"When I looked back, everything was on fire, like a fireball, the flames jumped the road like it was nothing," Mr Cardoso said. "We had no time to pick up anything. When you fight for your life, you just get out, you don't think about carrying stuff."

Everything gone for Carlos and Rhona’s home. Picture supplied by family.
Everything gone for Carlos and Rhona’s home. Picture supplied by family.

Mrs Maguire, who turns 78 next Tuesday, said the loss was "devastating".

"I didn't know until (the fire) was coming for me," she said. "I feel for those in the Queensland fires, I know now."

Friends of the pair have rallied around them, donating clothes, a mattress and Foodland vouchers. Pandora was also replacing one of Mrs Maguire's precious rings.

The pair, who have thanked their family and friends, are staying with Mrs Maguire's granddaughter, Richelle Mills, who has also tried to raise $10,000 to get them back on their feet.


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