The brother of a Vietnam veteran, believed to be one of two people killed in a bushfire that destroyed 128 homes in the West Australian town of Yarloop, does not blame authorities.
Bruce Taylor tried a few times to call his 77-year-old brother, Les, before the blaze tore through the town on Thursday night, but could not get through. Mr Taylor said his brother had not been in good health and may have been asleep when the bushfire ripped through Yarloop.
“I don’t think there’s any cause for blame on the death of my brother, I think it’s just a sad circumstance,” he told 6PR radio on Monday.
WA bushfire costs climb to $60 million
The cost of deadly Western Australian bushfires has climbed to $60 million and the figure is expected to rise, according to insurers.
The Insurance Council of Australia says several hundred calls have been made to insurers following bushfires that killed two people and razed 143 properties in the state’s southwest. The shires of Waroona and Harvey have been hardest hit and the town of Yarloop decimated in bushfires that continue to rage since they were sparked by lightning on Wednesday.
“Insured losses are now estimated at $60 million and are continuing to rise. More detailed figures will be released later in the week,” Insurance Council of Australia said in a statement on Monday.
Bushfires contained but not controlled
Easing weather conditions are helping firefighters battle the bushfire that has killed two people and razed 143 properties in Western Australia’s southwest.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services says the fire, which has burned more than 70,000 hectares, has raged since it was sparked by lightning on Wednesday morning.
An emergency warning in place for east of Waroona, Hamel, Yarloop and surrounding areas was downgraded on Monday morning to watch and act.
The fire is now contained but not controlled.
They’ve been fighting the monstrous #WAbushfire for days.The word exhaustion probably doesn’t cover it. Pic:Lucy Dev pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/rxqAVHqVXS
— Claire Grantham10 (@claire_grantham) January 10, 2016
Favourable conditions also saw the alert level drop to advice for Preston Beach and Lake Clifton including the Waroona townsite.
An advice alert remains in place for Pamelup Estate to Binningup townsite including the townsite of Myalup.
Four firefighters have been injured, while a NSW contingent, including 60 firefighters, is now assisting fatigued local crews.
Volunteers who battled to save Yarloop have used social media to defend themselves from criticism that residents were not adequately warned of the danger.
“We were left by the hierarchy to defend our town on our (own), unfortunately we lost,” the brigade posted on Facebook.
“To those of you who want to whinge that we weren’t there, be thankful you have a house left, I and most of my fellow firies and townspeople don’t.”
Deadly WA bushfires seen from space
Smoke produced from the deadly bushfires in Western Australia’s South West can be seen clearly from space, with a NASA satellite capturing an image of smoke billowing into the Indian and Southern Oceans.
The image was captured by the NASA Suomi NPP satellite on Thursday, with the smoke cloud seen to be stretching hundreds of kilometres into the ocean.
The lightning-sparked bushfire has killed two people and destroyed more than 143 properties in the Shires of Waroona and Harvey, burning through 72,600 hectares.
Third missing person found safe after two deaths
A third person feared missing in a bushfire, south of Perth, has been found alive.
Work continues to formally identify two elderly men suspected of being killed in the blaze that tore through Yarloop and destroyed at least 128 homes.
West Australian Police said it was possible further missing person reports could be made as time went on.
They’re urging all residents from fire-affected areas to register with the Australian Red Cross.
Human remains, believed to belong to two men aged 73 and 77, were found at two burnt-out homes in Yarloop on Saturday evening.
Malcolm Taylor is believed to be one of the men.
A family member told AAP that no one had heard from him since Thursday evening before the blaze ravaged the small town, which has a population of 545.
When she last spoke with the 73-year-old, who requires a hearing aid, he said he was going to stay at his house.
“He goes to bed early, around 7.30pm, so we’re worried that he turned off his hearing aid and went to sleep and then the houses went up so quickly,” she said.
“If Malcolm was all right, he would have rung someone by now.”
The family had also seen footage on the news of Mr Taylor’s razed house and the remains of his burnt-out car.
Opposition leader Mark McGowan tweeted his support for the victims late on Saturday night: “Terrible news tonight of lives lost in the South West fires. Thoughts are with family, friends and neighbours of those tragically taken.”
Premier Colin Barnett visited one of the evacuation centres on Saturday.
An emergency warning remains in place for a large part of the region, including east of Waroona, Hamel, Yarloop and surrounding areas.
But more favourable conditions has seen the alert level drop to a watch and act for some areas including Waroona, Harvey, Cookernup, Preston Beach and Lake Clifton.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services says forecast weather conditions are expected to assist firefighters on Sunday, but the blaze is still uncontained and uncontrolled.
At least 143 properties, including the 128 houses in Yarloop, have been destroyed, including sheds, caravans and community buildings.
Disaster assistance will be available for victims under the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
Four firefighters have been injured battling the blaze, while 60 firefighters, five paramedics and three management support staff from NSW are assisting local crews battling fatigue.
Several roads and recreation sites remain closed, with dairy farmers forced to dump thousands of litres of milk.
Nicole Ferraro said her father and brothers stayed to defend their properties and managed to save most of the herd, their homes and dairy, while the rest of the farm suffered “a blackened fate”.
“For the short term, their main focus is the well-being of the animals, keeping the cows milked and fed, as well as the supply of diesel which is needed to run the generator to keep the dairy operational and the milking herd healthy,” she wrote on Facebook.
Western Power says thousands of properties remain without power but burnt trees and debris in danger of collapsing must be cleared before crews can rebuild the network.
About 835 people have registered at two evacuation centres.
People wanting to help can make monetary donations through the Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund and the state government has already committed $1 million.