Massive prescribed burn the cause of Perth haze, smoke

Smoke haze, as seen from the hills in Kalamunda. Picture: David Baylis.
Smoke haze, as seen from the hills in Kalamunda. Picture: David Baylis.

THE Hills were blanketed in thick smoke on Wednesday afternoon due to a massive strategic prescribed burn to protect the townships of Mundaring, Sawyers Valley and Chidlow ahead of the summer bushfire season.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions said the burns 25km south-east of Mundaring had been identified as high priority to reduce fuel loads and assist in protecting the towns.

The department said it would take several days to burn the 2000 hectares in the Mundaring State Forest.

MORE: Perth Haze: Asthma WA chief says new air pollution early warning system will save lives

Last week the DBCA said Perth was likely to experience dozens of smoky days each year as it took advantage of every opportunity to undertake prescribed burning.

A spokeswoman said while a dry start to autumn limited the department’s ability to kick off its prescribed burning program, burn offs were now in full swing.

“The department’s annual financial year target for prescribed burning in the south-west of the state is 200,000ha,” she said.

“So far the department has burnt 138,168ha.

“The impacts of smoke and weather conditions are vital considerations when deciding when and where to undertake burns.”

In the 2016-17 financial year, the DBCA burnt 247,360ha, the department’s best result in 29 years.

Bushfire Front chair Roger Underwood said without prescribed burning Perth would be subject to even worse smoke pollution.

“In fact it is about their only remaining legitimate complaint, as in every other respect from environmental, ecological, economic, public safety and protection of rural assets, burning is beneficial, indeed essential,” he said.

“The health impacts are very minor, mostly confined to asthmatics. I feel sorry for them, but there are measures that they can take.

“There is no need whatsoever for healthy people to stay inside to avoid a bit of wood smoke.”

MORE: WA Police investigating fatal car crash in Wundowie

MORE: Eagles weigh up appeal after Nic Naitanui tackle suspension

MORE: Police hunt sex offender last seen in Forrestfield