Bushfire authorities say a recent controlled burn close to the Margaret River townsite has helped secure a major ongoing risk to the township. Multiple Shire of Augusta-Margaret River brigades undertook the burn in the Nguraren Kalleep Reserve during the Anzac Day long weekend as part of efforts seven years in the planning. The risk from bushfire in thick bush and growth in the land previously known as the Margaret River A-Class Reserve has featured prominently in Shire bushfire mitigation planning as well as Times front pages, with the land once identified as a high-risk threat to the Margaret River townsite if a blaze were to erupt during difficult conditions. A Wallcliffe Volunteer Bushfire Brigade spokesman said finding the right conditions for the work was a big part of the delays. “There’s been multiple attempts to reduce the bushfire hazard over the years, but the window of opportunity to get the work done safely is limited to only a handful of days in the year,” he said. “And those handful of days have proved elusive over the years as the bushfire season gets longer and longer.” A Shire spokesperson said brigades, including those now under the Department of Fire and Emergency Service, worked into the night alongside firefighters from Parks and Wildlife. “This achieves vital fuel reduction in close proximity to the Margaret River townsite which also provides a buffer of low fuel for our volunteer firefighters in the coming summers,” the spokesman said. “Due to the heavy nature of the fuel, it was in excess of 35 tonnes per hectare, there was smoke impact across sections of town throughout the weekend. Unfortunately, this could not be avoided.” Although the work was thoroughly advertised, thick smoke in close proximity to the town triggered the usual social media concerns, as well as memories for those affected by some of the region’s most serious bushfires. Wallcliffe estimated the fuel loads at about 50 tonnes of forest debris. “Conditions allowed for a perfect cool burn with just the forest floor being burnt,” the volunteer brigade said. “This fuel reduction has been conducted over the last few years with a mosaic of burns, including hours of groundwork from volunteers helping rake around habitat trees and prepare the bush. “It’s a timely reminder to everyone in Margaret River that we are surrounded by significant bushfire risk.” Property owners were urged to use the cooler months to tackle risks on their own land.