The West

A firefighter has recalled the terror of watching his fire truck melt around him after his crew got trapped in the ferocious blaze that ravaged the South West last week.

John Guest, a fire captain from Balingup, said his team had been fighting a blaze near the Blackwood River on February 13 when a strong wind caused the fire to intensify and race towards them.

The veteran firefighter said they were forced to shelter in their truck, trapped by flying embers and intense heat. "For about the next 45 minutes, surrounding us was a combination of flames, smoke, embers, breaking branches and strong unpredictable winds," he said.

Mr Guest, a father, said he and his two crew became drenched in sweat as the inside of the truck turned into a "sauna". "In my rear-view mirrors I could see everything melting that was made of plastic," he said.

The team waited calmly for the fire to move over them before they drove out - amazed they had survived.

Mr Guest, who has been a volunteer firefighter for 20 years, said he had been reluctant to tell his story, but wanted other firefighters to learn from his experience.

"I never thought it would happen to me but it did and we could have died a horrible death," he said.

Mr Guest called on the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to investigate using heat shields on trucks. He said trucks should also carry a fire blanket for each firefighter and that firefighters should be trained how to shelter in a truck if caught in a blaze.

The West Australian

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