No vacation from fire vigilance

Rick Crabb lost part of his Prevelly Beach holiday home to bushfire. Picture: Jon Bassett
Rick Crabb lost part of his Prevelly Beach holiday home to bushfire. Picture: Jon Bassett

‘I think this year, given it’s been such a wet winter, you need to be down there clearing in the next few weeks because things so can easily turn,’ Cottesloe company director Rick Crabb (56) said.

Mr Crabb lost part of his Prevelly Beach holiday home in the 2011 Margaret River bushfires.

‘We certainly hadn’t been trimming trees back as much as may have been needed,’ he said.

Neighbours with buckets saved his property, except for a burnt garden and deck, after his family left the area as the fire came down the river’s southern bank into the beachside village.

‘As it came across the river there was a house in front of us that went up. We were the first to cop it,’ Mr Crabb said.

Bush firefighters’ ongoing reports about absentee landowners not knowing what to do in an emergency prompted the department to survey 4000 holiday home owners across WA.

About 900 replies will be used to educate city dwellers about their duties for second homes from Esperance to Geraldton.

‘The survey found 42 per cent of absentee landowners thought a bushfire was unlikely, so this shows they are not engaging with the risk,’ department community engagement manager Jennifer Pidgeon said.

More than half of the respondents said they were unattached to rural communities where shire services, local knowledge and neighbours’ camaraderie are vital in emergencies, and there was a falsely held belief that preparing against fire took time and money.

It was found a fifth of owners took no fire prevention, including the minimal requirements of clearing leaves, cutting overhanging branches and preparing a fire-fighting plan comprising what triggers an evacuation, the route to take and putting the plan at a central point in the house.

‘It’s fine to mow the lawn at the start of the fire season, but they must maintain that,’ Ms Pidgeon said.

Holiday home bushfire protection workshops will he held at the WA Ecology Centre, 165 Perry Lakes Drive, Floreat from 6.30pm-8.30pm on November 6 and 10am-noon on November 9.