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Margaret River fire: Tide turns on bushfire thanks to cooler conditions and hard work

Taylar Amonini & Warren Hately Augusta Margaret River Times
Images from the Calgardup fire by DFES incident photographer Sean Blocksidge.
Camera IconImages from the Calgardup fire by DFES incident photographer Sean Blocksidge. Credit: Sean Blocksidge

Shocking and confronting images of blood-red skies, falling embers and walls of flames marked the third day of an out-of-control blaze in Margaret River, which shows no signs of slowing down.

More than 6000ha has been scarred by the inferno, which began on Wednesday morning, as 150 firefighters fought the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park blaze that remained at an emergency warning level on Friday night.

As milder, cooler conditions over the weekend are set to help containment efforts, police continue to search for a real estate agent missing on the fireground since Wednesday who was last seen where the blaze started.

His burnt-out car was found nearby at the Contos campground.

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Harrowing footage captured by firefighters on the front line showed the terrifying conditions inside the fire zone.

A fire continues to burn in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park south of Margaret River in the South West of the state. Pictured - DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm
Camera IconA fire continues to burn in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park south of Margaret River in the South West of the state. Pictured - DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

Flames licked the side of the road while plumes of smoke and embers filled the air.

DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm said while his crews appeared to be on top of the blaze, it would be weeks before it was put out.

“Milder weather conditions are making things a little easier, we can breathe slightly easier today but the danger is far from over,” he said.

It’s still a very serious situation with the potential to flare up if we were to get challenging weather conditions.

“There was a lot of effort on Wednesday and Thursday and now it’s the hard slog ... to really shore up those containment lines.”

A fire continues to burn in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park south of Margaret River in the South West of the state. Pictured is the fireground near Karridale
Camera IconA fire continues to burn in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park south of Margaret River in the South West of the state. Pictured is the fireground near Karridale. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

Evacuation centres have been set up in Margaret River and Busselton with 45 people registering as evacuees, but only eight needed Department of Communities accommodation on Thursday night.

Frustrated farmers who chose to stay and protect their properties queued down the street in Witchcliffe to apply for permits to travel through bushfire-ravaged areas.

The farmers were told that to travel to Margaret River for supplies and get back home they would need to get a special permit or abandon their farms and livestock.

One farmer told The West Australian he had spent two hours trying to secure a pass.

The cause of the Margaret River fire remains undetermined but is under investigation by Busselton detectives and specialist arson detectives from Perth.

A fire continues to burn in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park south of Margaret River in the South West of the state. Pictured is the fireground near Karridale
Camera IconA fire continues to burn in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park south of Margaret River in the South West of the state. Pictured is the fireground near Karridale. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

Mr Klemm said he was not aware of any connection between the blaze and missing 40-year-old Jordan Marshall.

“There is no indication at this point in time that this has been a deliberately lit fire or indeed that anybody’s missing,” he said.

Photographs released by police on Friday appear to show him in a dishevelled state with a mohawk hairstyle.

Police previously stated on Friday that Mr Marshall was spotted in the Margaret River townsite on Thursday afternoon.

But they now say that is not correct and that the last confirmed sighting of him was Wednesday morning.

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