THICK smoke from multiple burns blanketed Perth suburbs throughout the week, , with Department Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) warning of more smoke to come from prescribed burns and other burns by land managers and local government.
The extended period of fine weather has allowed agencies responsible for reduction burns to maximise their efforts in an early attempt to reduce bushfire loads before the summer months.
The Gazette asked DPaW and Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) which government organisation was responsible for determining the number of burn-offs permitted each day within any given area of land.
A DPaW spokeswoman said 16 of the 51 prescribed burns yesterday were on DPaW land, and the other burn-offs were the responsibility of local government and private landowners.
She suggested private landowners with a permit to burn within a given timeframe were also capitalising on the good weather.
Local governments are sent an alert by DPaW when a prescribed burn is due to take place in their area.
Residents ‘smoked out’ over the public holiday weekend took to social media to complain about the amount of smoke in the area and neighbours burning freshly cut green waste.
One resident urged people to restrict their burn-offs to dried wood waste that has been stockpiled and therefore does not cause excessive smoke.
Another resident complained of being “enveloped in enormous plumes of smoke” from a neighbour “chainsawing and burning green waste all day”.
A third resident said she was unable to sit in her garden or dry washing because she was surrounded by people burning off over the weekend.
Burning in the City of Armadale is banned on Sundays and public holidays.
However, burning restrictions in the City of Swan and Kalamunda and Mundaring Shires generally only apply between October and March.
Premier Mark McGowan said the Government would not apologise for undertaking the burn-offs.
“I think people accept that we need to take action to prevent catastrophic bushfires,” Mr McGowan said.
“Burning off is one of the things that does that. And I won’t apologise on behalf of the Government for taking those actions.
“It’s one of those things; a little bit of inconvenience can save a lot of trouble in the future if you do it right.”
People affected by smoke are recommended to turn off their airconditioners and keep windows closed.
The City of Swan administration building in Midland was evacuated yesterday morning after smoke entered the airconditioning system and triggered the fire alarm.
Across the road, the fire alarm sounded twice inside the State Government building of Landgate, where an employee said staff badly affected by the smoke had to leave work.
People adversely affected by smoke, with asthma and other respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses, are urged to follow their treatment plan.
Anyone with a condition exacerbated by smoke should seek medical advice.
For information about prescribed burns, visit www.emergency.wa.gov.au or call 13 DFES (13 3337).
City of Swan burn-off guidelines
Do not burn damp, wet or green waste as this will cause excessive smoke
Conduct a burn in an area surrounded by fire breaks
Rake around dead trees to minimise risk
Notify your neighbours
Be in attendance and control of the burn at all times
Be able to extinguish the fire if conditions change
Fires are to be immediately extinguished should smoke blow across public roads causing visibility to be reduced