Stone’s throw from disaster

Brad Mason from Gosnells volunteer bush fire brigade mops up after the Forrestdale and Banjup bush fire. Pictures: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d415076
Brad Mason from Gosnells volunteer bush fire brigade mops up after the Forrestdale and Banjup bush fire. Pictures: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d415076

The fire started just after midnight on Sunday between Taylor Road and Nicholson Road.

By Tuesday, it had burnt through 498ha in Banjup, Forrestdale, Atwell and Aubin Grove.

Fuelled by a lethal combination of hot temperatures and gusty conditions, it took more than 200 fire fighters, with the support of aerial water bombers, to bring the fire under control two days later.

Forrestdale couple John and Lyn Johnson had to flee the fire when a six-metre wall of flames threatened to engulf their Taylor Road property.

Mr Johnson said they had been monitoring the blaze throughout the night, but it approached so swiftly that they did not have time to take any possessions or load-up their horses.

‘My wife had rung the emergency line several times and they said the fire was under control,’ he said.

‘It was like a tornado when it came through at 10.40am. We had just a minute to jump in the car and go. It was a miracle the house and the horses survived.’

The fire went up the side of the property, burnt sheds, surrounding paddocks. Firefighters had to put flames out in the garage, but the house came away unscathed.

Firefighters stayed at the property for 24 hours afterwards mopping up and putting out spot fires.

The couple, who had major concerns for their horses, were unable to return to their property to see just how lucky they were until it was safe enough on Wednesday.

Eight horses from Forrestdale properties were believed to have died in the fire, while six houses received minor damage and 120 homes were left without power.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services superintendent Allan Riley said the firefighters, who came from as far north as Gingin and from as far south as Bunbury, helped save hundreds of houses.

The WA police arson squad is currently investigating whether the fire was caused by someone burning rubbish on a track between Nicholson and Taylor roads.