Margaret River fire emergency: Hope emergency alert will be downgraded soon as authorities talk complex caves
Positive news has marked the fourth day of a bushfire blazing through Margaret River’s national parks, with authorities hopeful its alert level will be downgraded this afternoon.
More than 6000 hectares of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park has been reduced to ash by the inferno, which started on Wednesday morning, with more than 150 firefighters still working to quell the threat.
While an emergency warning level remains in place, DFES deputy incident controller Craig Garrett said if weather conditions remain favourable there could be scope to open up Bussell Highway.
“Currently we’re looking at our warning levels... having the completion of the burning out means that we can reassess the opening of Bussell Highway,” he said.
“We just need to make sure there’s no smoke impact... so we’re hoping this afternoon to be able to give people a little bit more of an update that they’re looking for.”
Overnight weather conditions saw temperatures drop to 12 degrees and rain allowed firefighters to secure their boundaries.
According to DFES incident controller Brad Barton the biggest challenge for crews on the ground over the week had been the complex caves system the region is famous for.
“The biggest challenge has been navigating the cave network, which is a significant network through this area, important both environmentally and culturally,” he said.
“We have been unable and unwilling to put machinery off-road because of the dangers and the risk they pose not only to machinery operators but the environment.”
Neither Mr Barton or Mr Garrett were able to comment on the missing man at the centre of the fire, 40-year-old Jordan Marshall.
The Perth father of three went missing in Margaret River around the same time the inferno ignited and has not been seen since Wednesday morning.
A new photograph and CCTV images of Mr Marshall was released by police on Friday which appear to show him in a dishevelled state with a Mohawk hairstyle.
Hope was briefly restored shortly after, when police announced Mr Marshall had been spotted in the Margaret River townsite on Thursday afternoon.
However, that information was retracted minutes later, with police confirming the last sighting of him was Wednesday morning.
It was revealed Saturday morning Mr Marshall is facing four charges of criminal damage of destruction of property, and one count of unlawful assault.
Police continue to hold serious concerns for the Mr Marshall’s welfare after failing to find any sign of him after the reported discovery of his car at the Contos campground.
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