Here’s a great article from our friends at the Collie Mail that goes to the heart of why WA needs to preserve it’s impressive network of smaller volunteer fire brigades rather than merge, streamline or amalgamate and end up with larger ones in less places. See the headline chosen by our journalistic partners – “Quick response ‘key’ to stopping bushfire”. The fact is, WA’s 26,000 incredible bush fire volunteers attend thousands of small fires that without them on scene quickly, would become much bigger, more dangerous ones.
Well done to all those who worked together to save Allanson and Collie and thank you to the Collie Mail for again sharing a story that amply demonstrates the need for local knowledge, insight and action.
Shire of Collie incident controller and bushfire control officer Julian Martin believes Allanson saw ‘the best possible outcome’ to yesterday’s bushfire, with no lives or properties lost to the blaze.
The bushfire started on private property north-west of Allanson at approximately 1pm and due to to south-easterly winds, was travelling towards the Allanson townsite.
“I personally cannot thank the crews that were at the fire yesterday enough for the stellar effort they put in,” he said.
“They basically achieved what I thought was impossible, so they definitely need to be congratulated.
“The fast response by everybody was the key element to stopping the fire
“Had we not had the resources, and had the resources not worked so well, right now we’d be putting out smouldering houses all through Allanson.
“The fire travelled very quickly (with a) very fierce intensity and it was travelling in a direct path for Allanson.
“I really felt the town was under threat which was why I gave the evacuation order.”
Mr Martin said although no lives or houses had been lost, there had been damage to structures in the area.
“At the moment there’s a number of sheds – one of the sheds had the owner’s caravan parked in there – that’s been lost,” he said.
“There’s been some livestock that have died during the fire and some more that will probably have to be destroyed, the vets are assessing some cattle.”
Mr Martin said it was ‘chaos’ dealing with the fire, with firefighters helping protecting some houses in the hills that had ‘fireballs rolling over (their) roofs’.
“We had six firefighters treated and assessed for medical issues relating to dehydration, smoke inhalation, heat stress (and that) speaks for itself,” he said.
“That’s not normal for a fire event to have any firefighters carted away, let alone that many … but you can expect that when it was 40 degrees and they were facing a wall of fire.”
He said four firefighters had been taken to hospital by ambulance while another two presented themselves, but all six were ‘doing well’.
Mr Martin said the Department of Fire and Emergency Services was still trying to determine how the fire began.
“At this stage we’ve got an investigation team that have been working today to determine the cause,” he said.
“The cause is undetermined at this stage, (but) I don’t believe it to be suspicious and definitely not deliberately lit.
“There are many potential ignition sources – electric fences, power lines. It could have been as simple as a crow touching the power lines, catching fire and hitting the ground.”
Mr Martin said fire crews had continued to monitor the fire overnight and would continue to watch it closely for the next week, although some rain forecasted for tomorrow will provide some relief.
“Crews worked through the night … to keep an eye on things and keep bolstering up that north side,” he said.
“It’s quite breezy up there on the hills and there’s a patch of bush where probably our greatest threat is going to be if an ember comes from a tree that’s burning, throws it outside and off she goes again and we’re back to square one.
“At least the weather forecast for today is to push the fire away from Allanson and then we have significant rainfall forecast ironically for tomorrow and Wednesday.”
Shire of Collie chief executive officer David Blurton said everyone involved in the bushfire response, from the volunteer firefighters, DFES, the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation and Attractions and Collie Police, needed to be commended.
“The Shire of Collie has a close working relationship with Collie office of DBCA, in particular with fire management issues, and the experience and professionalism of the department and support from other organisations including DFES was critical in ensuring yesterday’s fire was contained quickly.” Mr Blurton said.
“I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of volunteer bush fire brigade members and Volunteer Fire and Rescue teams who bravely attended yesterday in very trying conditions.
“Special thanks must go to the shire’s bushfire control officer Julian Martin and deputy bushfire control officer Shane Hickson, who both did a fantastic job.”