Blazes spark firebug fears

The Brabham fire burns scrub near Lord Street.
The Brabham fire burns scrub near Lord Street.

Three fires in four days over the weekend prompted speculation that last fire season’s serial arsonist may have returned.

However, a Department of Fire and Emergency Services spokesman scotched the theory. He said although investigations were still underway there was nothing to indicate the fires had been deliberately lit.

The first major blaze of the summer was near Bullsbrook last Friday. A second began at Brabham, near Whiteman Park, on Saturday and a third began at about 12.40 on Monday just north of Ellenbrook.

Firefighters suspected up to seven fires in the Bullsbrook area in February and March of last year were lit deliberately.

The spree culminated on March 8 when a series of fires in Upper Swan, Aveley, Ellenbrook, Whiteman Park and Brigadoon were all lit between 10pm and 3am.

The serial firebug is also believed to be responsible for lighting at least eight fires in the Shire of Mundaring over the same period.

No arrests were ever made over the incidents.

Some residents now fear the arsonist may have returned.

Friday’s fire started in scrubland between Warbrook Road, Sawpit Road and Railway Parade at about 11.40am.

At one stage, DFES warned the fire was a possible threat to lives and homes and residents close to the fire were told to leave in a north-easterly direction, or prepare to actively defend their properties. However, the crisis was averted by firefighters and the alert was downgraded about 5pm.

Sawpit, Warbrook and Maralla roads and Railway Parade were closed while the fire was contained.

A DFES spokesman said fire fighters continued to patrol the area through to Sunday afternoon.

‘It is likely that the fire will smoulder for many days as it is now burning in peat and, because peat burns underground, it is near impossible to extinguish,’ he said.

Brabham, West Swan, Henley Brook and Whiteman Park residents went on red alert when a blaze began in bushland at about 3.30pm on Sunday.

Houses between Harrow Street, Lord Street, Park Street and West Swan Road were under threat and occupants were told to actively defend them.

The fire perimeter was 3.2km and burnt out 29ha of land in five hours before it was contained.

DFES had the fire under control by 9pm.

More than 90 career and volunteer fire fighters battled the blaze.

Monday’s blaze began in bushland near Helms Loop, north of Ellenbrook, sending smoke billowing into the sky.

DFES initially said there was no immediate danger. However, the advisory was upgraded to an ’emergency warning’ soon after 2pm.

The fire was out of control and unpredictable, burning in bushland near Pineroo Terrace, Feredy Loop and Maralla Road, DFES said in a release.

There was a threat to lives and homes and residents were warned to leave, or actively defend their homes.

Those who was not at home were told it was too dangerous to return.

The fire was still burning when this edition of The Advocate went to press.