DEPARTMENT of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) says it will be “adequately prepared” for the 2016-17 bushfire season despite concerns raised by two Kelmscott and Roleystone residents this week.
Kelmscott resident Max Margetts told Comment News this week he was concerned hills communities could be devastated if substantial changes were not made to managing bushland fuels.
Roleystone resident Peter Stewart said fuel loads in the district had increased two or three fold over the past 30 years due to “a lack of attention from all land managers”.
“The potential for a Yarloop-type fire up here and in any one of the dozens of settlements along the Perth Hills, from Gidgegannup to Waroona, remains extreme,” he said.
“It’s simple, to borrow a line from former US President Bill Clinton, it’s the fuel stupid.”
About 70 homes and structures, including a major bridge, were destroyed in the 2011 Kelmscott and Roleystone fires.
A DPaW spokeswoman said fire management in the Perth Hills area was conducted year-round by department staff.
“Following the very busy summer bushfire season Parks and Wildlife staff began prescribed burning in autumn,” she said.
“These operations have successfully prepared a number of large landscape-scale burns for completion in spring 2016.”
The spokeswoman said although the wet winter had slowed burning operations, DPaW had completed a number of small-scale burns on the urban interface, with a focus on the Kalamunda area.
“With warmer, drier weather approaching, Parks and Wildlife staff are now focusing on preparations for the spring burning season by undertaking detailed planning, maintaining and upgrading of fire access trails,” she said.
“This planning work will continue throughout August alongside pre-season training exercises and the recruitment of seasonal firefighters.”
“These preparatory works will ensure we are adequately prepared for the 2016-17 bushfire season.”
Meanwhile, the State Government is set to announce its response to the Ferguson Inquiry into the Waroona and Yarloop bushfires that was released in June, next month.