Ban extended due to bushfire risk

‘The fire index is still very high and soil dryness indicators are the highest they have been in six years,’ he said.

‘We still need 20-25mm of rain before permits to burn will be issued.

‘Fire conditions are still very volatile and people who choose to light fires in high-risk areas put the whole community at risk.’

He said a recent spate of bushfires in the Armadale area have indications which suggest they had been deliberately lit. ‘Authorities suspect they may have been deliberately lit because of the locality, timing and distance between the fires.

‘Generally arsonists light multiple fires in locations which are difficult to access and they are premeditated to cover their activities.

‘The fires along Albany Highway, which occurred in March, were approximately 2-3km apart, on the same side of the road and in an area where they had the potential to cause a lot of damage.’

Deputy chief bushfire control officer Matt Plowman said people often underestimated the damage a fire could do and people who deliberately lit fires put lives at risk.

‘We’ve had firefighters put in a situation where they don’t know which house to save,’ he said.

‘Anyone who wilfully lights fires endangers lives and causes extensive damage to property.’

Mr Plowman said residents also needed to make a conscious effort to prepare their homes against fire, even during the winter months.

‘If people start clearing their gutters when the fire is coming ” which has happened ” it’s too late,’ he said.

‘Often they don’t realise how high the flames can get. If they are going to stay and defend their properties, they need to have a plan in place.’

He reiterated the importance of following the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ ‘Prepare, Act, Survive’ guide, which can be found on the DFES website: dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/fire/bushfire. Life imprisonment is the maximum sentence for anyone who wilfully destroys or damages property by fire.