South West Fires Community Update

SOME fire fighters have been working for 30 hours straight to battle the mammoth fires tearing through the State’s south west.

More: Almost 100 homes lost in Yarloop.

More: Waroona residents forced to flee for their lives again.

More: Southbound festival organisers and promoters focus on South West fires despite disappointment.

More: Premier Colin Barnett to visit bushfire affected area in a couple of days.

It is not safe for Waroona, Preston Beach or Yarloop residents to return to their homes, WA Fire Commissioner Wayne Gregson told residents at a community meeting in Pinjarra on Friday afternoon.

Strong winds changing direction constantly keep moving the goal posts for fire fighters.

Losses are “significant” Mr Gregson told residents.

He said the rain is insufficient to put out the fires, only slow drenching rain can do that.

“We are desperate to protect Forrest Highway,” he said.

“Fires are threatening Cookernup and we are worried about Harvey.

“We are saying to people that we prefer you not be there, police are doorknocking residents.”

A Western Power spokeswoman said the priority is getting power on in Waroona.

More than 4200 homes are without power in Waroona and about 70 in Pinjarra.

Mr Gregson said 100 people and 30 fire fighters were still stuck in Yarloop.

They have aircraft dropping food and water; it is not safe to drive out yet.

Mr Gregson said that the State must exhaust its own resources before they can use Commonwealth resources.

However, career and volunteer fire fighters may be supplemented by fire fighters from the Eastern States.

Murray Wellington MLA Murray Cowper said this part of the south-west had not seen fires like this since the 60s.

They are looking at changing road blocks in Coolup to allow people access to Placid Ark Roadhouse for supplies and fuel.

Mr Gregson said he is not in a position to tell Waroona residents to return to their homes.

“Things change very quickly,” he said.

The Department of Child Protection are managing the evacuation centre, a spokesman said.

People staying there are encouraged to register their details with the Red Cross so family and friends know they are safe.

He said people have offered accommodation at private residences for those who might be interested.

They will provide accommodation and food for as long as it’s needed.