South West fire the worst in 50 years


Department of Parks and Wildlife fire operations officer Grant Eikelboom took this image of the fire as it was burning.
South West fire the worst in 50 years
South West fire the worst in 50 years
South West fire the worst in 50 years
South West fire the worst in 50 years
South West fire the worst in 50 years
Department of Parks and Wildlife fire operations officer Grant Eikelboom took this image of the fire as it was burning.

A lightning strike started the fire on Wednesday, January 6 near Dwellingup and by Thursday morning, as temperatures soared past 40 degrees, residents in Waroona and Preston Beach were evacuated.

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The historic town of Yarloop was engulfed by fire on Thursday evening.

About 100 residents and 30 firefighters escaped the inferno on an oval, watching as the town burned. More than 100 Yarloop residents are now homeless and many did not have insurance.

The blaze moved south over the weekend and threatened Harvey.

By Monday, the bushfire had swept through more than 71ha and destroyed 128 houses. Major roads were closed, including Forrest Highway and Old Coast Road.

More than 800 people were evacuated, with many going to evacuation centres in Pinjarra and Australind.

Yesterday, many of the emergency warnings for Waroona, Hamel, Yarloop and surrounding areas were downgraded to a watch and act, due to more favourable weather conditions and the efforts of firefighters.

An Emergency Situation has been declared for shires of Harvey and Waroona as the recovery effort begins.

Amidst the catastrophe, stories emerged of generosity.

Numerous social media pages were quickly engaged to gather help, particularly for displaced animals in the rural zone.

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Authorities, however, continue to request that generous West Australians donate money through the official Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund, rather than attempt to deliver items to the recovery area.

Volunteering WA has invited people to register as emergency volunteers, but no further frontline assistance is required at this stage.

FIRE FACTS

– The cause of the fire was lightning

– More than 71,150 hectares have been burnt.

– The fire perimeter is in excess of 232km.

– 143 properties including 128 houses and other structures including sheds, caravans and community buildings have been confirmed lost.

– There were 350 fire department personnel fighting the fires, including including 60 firefighters, five paramedics and three management support staff from NSW.

– An inter-agency Incident Management Team comprising the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Parks and Wildlife and local government is managing the fire.