DFES Deputy Commissioner Craig Waters gives a further update on the Wooroloo bushfire.
We’re bringing our live coverage to a close for today. Thank you for joining us, please stay safe. For the latest emergency information, visit emergency.wa.gov.au, call 13 DFES (13 3337), follow DFES on Twitter: twitter.com/dfes_wa, or Facebook: facebook.com/dfeswa.
There is also a video from Parks and Wildlife Service deputy incident controller Greg Mair from with a community meeting update for the Wooroloo bushfire below.
DFES advises if you are in the area of Wilson Road and Chittering Road in Bullsbrook, enact your bushfire plan now.
People in or around Clenton Road and Berry Road, Gidgegannup and Shady Hills Estate and East Bullsbrook are in the immediate danger area and it is too late to leave.
You must shelter in place, or if you are prepared you must actively defend.
Among today’s headlines:
- The number of homes lost to the Wooroloo fire rose to 81, however DFES believes it will stay at that number unless conditions worsened over the coming days.
DFES commissioner Darren Klemm said Shady Hills Estate – which was expected to bear the brunt of the fire front overnight – was saved by the hard work of firefighters.
Western Power says 200 poles have been destroyed and 50 transformers lost, meaning the recovery will take “weeks, not days”. Currently 800 customers are without power.
- A team of about 40 fire trucks and air support are battling a fresh fire that started four kilometres east of Bullsbrook just after 3pm.
- The Department of Defence is preparing to fly 50 tonnes of fire retardant to WA to help the fire battle that is expected to rage for another week. Aerial tankers have been critical in helping stop the spread of the fire across tough terrain.
- People wanting to help out have been urged to refrain from sending food and clothing donations in light of the pandemic lockdown. Instead, monetary donations to the relief funds set up are preferred.
The separate fire east of Bullsbrook, near Wilson Road and Chittering Road intersection, has extended the northern boundary of the emergency warning.
Aircraft and firefighters are on the scene.
DFES warns if you are in the area, to enact your bushfire plan now.
“People in or around Clenton Road and Berry Road, Gidgegannup and Shady Hills Estate and East Bullsbrook are in the immediate danger area and it is too late to leave.”
DFES deputy commissioner Craig Waters said the rapid damage team had finished its investigations and was confident the number of houses lost would remain at 81 unless fire conditions worsened over coming days.
In the meantime, 151 affected residents have been staying at the three evacuation centres in total, according to the Department of Communities.
A spokeswoman warned the evacuation centres were not set up for those with disabilities and they were working to find alternative arrangements.
Those directed to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 were also being directed to find alternative accommodation and phone 13-COVID (13 26 843).
She paid thanks to the countless volunteers and charities who had provided services and food during the emergency.
She said those left without personal items and toiletries could shop at Kmart Midland until 6pm, and 10am to 4pm tomorrow, as long as they had a permission slip form the department.
Western Power chief operations officer Sam Barbaro says his agents have uncovered “significant damage” at the entry to the fire ground, with 200 poles destroyed and 50 transformers lost.
“It looks as if the recovery works will take weeks not days,” he said, comparing it to the 2016 Yarloop fires, which also took four weeks to recover.
He said so far 800 customers were without power, which at the start of the fire numbered 2000.
Western Power workers were able to reduce that to 1200 without power on Wednesday night by helping restore the network to Sawyers Valley.
Mr Barbaro called on the public to stay eight metres away from fallen power poles and to treat them as live. Any fallen poles can be reported to 13 13 51.
DFES Deputy Commissioner Craig Waters says 40 fire trucks and air support are battling a fresh fire that started four kilometres east of Bullsbrook just after 3pm.
“We’ve hit it really hard with multiple appliances and aircraft to bring it under control as quickly as we can,” he said.
The fire was 20 to 40 hectares in size and was not considered a breakout from the main fire but was being handled by the same fire crews. The cause has yet to be determined.
Mr Waters said they had 90 per cent of the Wooroloo fire tracked using earthmoving and aerial fire breaks but “we’re not out of the woods yet”, with gusty winds going into the night proving particularly challenging.
The Wooroloo fire has burnt through 10,500 hectares and the perimeter now stretches 130 kilometres.
The Department of Defence is preparing to fly 50 tonnes of fire retardant to WA to help the fire battle that is expected to rage for another week.
WA’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services called upon the defence force to deliver the retardant to boost supply for the additional large air tanker brought in from NSW.
There are three large air tankers currently in operation, which are expected to continue securing containment lines across the weekend.
The first flight of retardant aboard an RAAF aircraft took off from its base in Richmond, NSW, headed to DFES’ base of operation at the Busselton-Margaret River Airport today, with the full delivery expected to be completed by Friday.
“The transfer of the fire retardant will be made in a COVID-safe contactless manner,” a defence spokesperson said.
“Aircraft crew will not interact with personnel on the ground in Western Australia.”
A separate fire has started near the intersection of Wilson Road and Chittering Road in Bullsbrook.
DFES advises aircraft are at the scene and firefighters are on their way. If you are in the area, enact your bushfire plan now.
Firefighters in the Shady Hills estate have mobilised to protect a home off Shady Hills View as flames inch closer to the residential area over the ridge.
Up until now, crews had managed to prevent the fire from getting to the doorstep of the estate.
But flames can now be seen burning just across the gully.
Air crews had dropped retardant at the bottom of the gully in a bid to slow the advance of the blaze, which is fanned by strong wind gusts.
Ash is now falling from the sky.
Jessica Blackwell’s home in Tilden Park, Gidgegannup – a semi-rural estate north of Perth now 80 per cent wiped out by the Wooroloo bushfires – had represented the achievement of a dream.
Ms Blackwell runs equine sports therapeutic and education service Equestricare, and for most of her life agisted her horses and commuted to work from the city.
But four years ago she took the plunge to realise her dream of living and working on her own property.
She and her partner bought their nine-acre block and built from scratch their house, teaching facility, paddocks and arena. They moved in three years ago.
“This was my big … yeah,” Ms Blackwell said, her voice flat and vague with shock.
Full story here.