WA fires downgraded amid easing conditions

Easing weather conditions are helping firefighters battle the blaze that has killed two people and destroyed more than 140 properties.


But the Department of Fire and Emergency Services says the threat still remains.

Fire crews in Western Australia are describing the massive bushfire in the state’s southwest as “contained but not controlled”.

Calmer weather conditions have been a welcome reprieve for firefighters entering their sixth day of battling the blaze which has burnt more than 70,000 hectares of land.

The bushfire was sparked by lightning last Wednesday morning.

An emergency warning in place for east of Waroona, Hamel, Yarloop and surrounding areas has now been downgraded to ‘watch and act’.

Damon Childs, from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, says favourable conditions have led to the downgrade.

“Fortunately we’ve had better weather conditions in the last couple of days and that’s assisted firefighting operations. We’ve also had a chance to contain the fires so we’ve got containment lines around the fire and we still have some areas that have uncontrolled fire but they are contained so there’s no real danger. So we could downgrade the alerts to a watch and act in certain areas and some others have even come down as low as an all clear and other ones in between are an advice.”

Easing 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 New South Wales contingent, including 60 firefighters, is now assisting fatigued local crews.

Volunteers who battled to save the town of Yarloop have used social media to defend themselves from criticism that residents were not adequately warned of the danger.

But Yarloop resident Alan Coleman, who was inside his home just minutes before the flames hit, says people should’ve been given more warning.

“Very frightening, it was scary. The fire was just roaring all the time, the house on the corner caught fire, just helped my neighbours out, got them on the oval. And yeah, everything went wrong.”

Authorities have also discovered two bodies in Yarloop of men aged 73 and 77, who are believed to have died in the blaze.

Meanwhile, a number of major roads in the area remain closed raising concerns about food supplies to the southwest.

Local MP Murray Cowper says the road closures could be felt as far as supermarkets in Perth and other towns, with market gardeners struggling to get their produce through.

Mr Cowper says milk supplies may also run short, as major dairy suppliers in the Harvey area were forced to dump milk.

Store owners, like Colin Bell in the town of Binningup, have been allowed through roadblocks after running critically low on supplies.

“We’ve run out at a lot of stores and we can’t top the shop up, they wouldn’t let the trucks in this week to supply the community with the goods, so yeah, we’re just doing what we can do.”

Fire crews are hoping for better news as stable weather conditions are expected over the next few days, before high temperatures and strong winds once again take hold.