Season’s fire risk warning

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Prevelly, 2009.
Camera IconPrevelly, 2009. Credit: Wallcliffe Brigade

Rampant bushfires across NSW this week have underscored the threat to the Margaret River region, with WA chiefs warning it’s only a matter of time before another major blaze.

Local volunteer bushfire fighters are determined for that disaster not to be in the Capes and have issued an urgent call for residents to attend to overgrowth and have bushfire plans ready. Strong winds all weekend and into the earlier part of this week came as Shire of Augusta-Margaret River chiefs warned residents to check daily on fire advice, with all permits cancelled at the weekend.

The warnings come ahead of the eighth anniversary of 2011’s Margaret River bushfires which destroyed more than 50 homes and chalets.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm warned WA residents to prepare this summer because the traditional northern and southern seasons had combined.

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“These are some pretty stark indicators of what is to come,” Mr Klemm said. “I’m concerned as we go into every bushfire season, but the longer the time goes without a bad season, the likelihood of a big season is greater.”

Shire chief emergency services manager Adam Jasper reminded residents about the restricted burning period now in effect.

“This means anyone wanting to do a burn needs a permit and should only burn according to the conditions on the permit,” he said.

Shire chief bushfire control officer David Holland said the region was drier than average.

“We as a community can take steps so we are collectively prepared for fire season,” he said.

“Please reduce fuel loads on your lots whether you are town site residential, rural, industry or otherwise. Clear excess leaf litter, clear your gutters, ensure adequate separation between vegetation and buildings.

“I also urge landowners of larger lots to prepare their firebreaks now and maintain them throughout the season.

“A firebreak can stop a small fire from becoming a big fire. They can prevent a small fire from entering your property. They are there to stop a small fire from leaving your property and going to a neighbouring lot.”

Margaret River and Busselton firefighters also headed east to support exhausted NSW fire crews this week.

In saluting those volunteers, Wallcliffe Volunteer Bushfire Brigade said the best way residents could support fireys was to be prepared and have fire plans ready.

“If you are faced with bushfire impacting on your home or work, you need to know what your triggers are to leave, where you will go, and how you will get there,” the brigade said.

“It’s been eight years since the last big bushfire, and regrowth and fuel loads mean we can expect another intense fire when the next one hits.”

Contact the Shire or visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au/firechat to get up to date.

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