WA fire claims 34 homes

Residents of the Margaret River region remain on alert as a bushfire that has destroyed 34 houses and holiday chalets continues to threaten properties.


About 150 firefighters battled the blaze overnight on Thursday, assisted by an easing of the winds that helped push it across the Margaret River.

Hundreds of residents and holidaymakers have evacuated areas threatened by fire and an emergency warning remains in place for residents south and west of the Margaret River township.

The firefighters hope that light rain forecast for Friday will assist them in their efforts to fully contain the blaze.

The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) said on Friday that 25 houses and nine chalets had been lost to the fire through Wednesday and Thursday.

Properties have been burnt or damaged at Prevelly, Gnarabup and Redgate and the historic Wallcliffe House has been burnt through.

The fire spread out of control on Wednesday from a prescribed DEC burn that had been going since September 6.

Residents in fire threat zones are being urged to leave their properties unless they are prepared to stay and defend them.

A bushfire advice has been issued for people in the Margaret River townsite, urging them to be alert and watch for signs of fire.

An emergency relocation centre has been operating at the Margaret River Cultural Centre, where dozens of evacuated people rested during the night.

Roads around the fire zone remain closed and will not reopen until deemed safe by authorities.

About 140 school-leavers planning to stay at the Prevelly Park caravan park will be unable to hold their celebrations there because of the fire.

DEC said the fire was estimated to have affected about 2865 hectares after it escaped its prescribed burn conducted in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park over the past 10 weeks.

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has defended the state’s prescribed burning system but says an inquiry will be held into the Margaret River fire, which is likely to be declared a natural disaster.

Elsewhere in WA’s southwest, a bushfire alert has been issued for people in the Black Point area in the shire of Nannup and in Somerset Hill in the shire of Denmark where there is a possible threat to lives and homes from approaching fires.