The ABC article below gives a good overview of some significant incidents that happened in the Wheatbelt this week.
But before we saw the article, we received the message below from a deeply experienced, local who made some observations about some of the stark differences between urban-focused services and the way things have worked in rural areas for more than a century.
And the message goes to the heart of why the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) is so passionate about maintaining our network of local-government managed services across WA – it’s all about being in control, flexible and fit-for-purpose.
Our volunteer began by noting some of the differences in the way large incidents are often managed with this wonderful contrasting explanation of how the locally-managed incident he attended unfolded:
“Farmers arrived as fast as able, then got on with the job at hand, no individual was in charge, no commands were given, no battle board, the radio was fairly quite, the fire was reasonably vigorous, the farmers spread themselves out as appropriate and pulled it up on the Brand hwy, the hwy was blocked for less than half an hour, it was something to see, as a well oiled machine, the community, looking after itself, loaders/graders/fire utes and trucks rolled up and suppressed the fire asap, then went home.”
This is why the AVBFB believes WA needs a Rural Fire Service and will continue to fight for the preservation and strengthening of the well-suited, highly efficient network of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades owned and managed by local people with expert knowledge of local conditions.
Fires sparked by lightning destroy $3.6 million worth of crops in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt
Fires in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt have torn through grain crops, leaving a damage bill of more than $3.6 million.
Up to 20 fires were sparked by lightning strikes late on Thursday as thunderstorms rolled through the Dalwallinu area.
Dalwallinu Shire chief bushfire control officer Gary Butcher said about 3,000 hectares of cereal crop was lost in the largest blaze.
But he said there were a number of other smaller fires burning in crops.
“The biggest fire went [for] 8 kilometres and ended up being about 3 kilometres wide once it hit the eastern salt lake system,” he said.
“We had multiple strikes ranging from Kalannie, Buntine, Wubin, Pithara and Dalwallinu … we haven’t had as many dry lightning strikes ever.
“It was kind of like ‘which fire do I go to?’, because they were just striking all over the place and they were joining up and becoming bigger fires.
“[It was] a pretty hectic night.”
It could have been worse, shire says
After a poor harvest last year, the Dalwallinu region had been enjoying a good season this year.
Harvest began a few weeks ago, and most wheat crops were averaging about 3.5 tonnes per hectare of grain.
Mr Butcher said the fires could have been worse if the conditions were different.
“The wind was not too bad actually, so it does give you an idea of what would happen on a hot summer’s day,” he said.
“[It was] a good wake up drill for those who haven’t seen fires.
“I’ve been doing this job for 30 years and we haven’t had it where you haven’t had immediate rain.”
Mr Butcher said the community rallied together to fight the fires.
“It’s what we all train for. We had volunteers that were on the fire ground, farming units, our bushfire trucks, people making food, contractors saying, ‘where can I take my 50,000 litres of water for you’,” he said.
“So [it was] a good community effort.”