News State Western Australia News Yarloop bushfire victims say they had no warning

Yarloop bushfire victims say they had no warning

Bushfires WA
Australians still reeling from the coronavirus crisis are being warned to brace for bushfires and damaging rains.
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Yarloop bushfire victims claim there was no warning as a massive fire roared through the town, levelling most of it in seven minutes.

The massive Western Australian blaze has now been contained but not controlled, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) says.

Calmer conditions overnight and on Sunday have allowed firefighters to build containment lines around the fire, which has a perimeter in excess of 226km.

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An emergency warning for the blaze, which all but razed the small historic town of Yarloop, remains for people in the area east of Waroona, Hamel and Yarloop and surrounding areas in the Shires of Harvey and Waroona.

Alan Coleman, 61, was stranded in Yarloop when the fire came through.

He said residents were given no warning and he lost everything.

“It was very frightening, it was very scary. The fire was roaring the whole time,” he said.

“The house on the corner caught on fire. We just helped the neighbours out and got them all on the oval and just everything went wrong.

Alan Coleman spent a terrifying night on the town oval in Yarloop as a massive bushfire swept through. Photo: ABC

“Someone yelled out the fire will be here in a couple of minutes. The houses started going up [along] the streets across the road from my house.

“We had to go through a bush track to get out.

“The fire people did help …. [there] was a good bloke. He just escorted us out and we went to the town next to us.

“Everything. I’ve lost everything. The house across the road [the fire] never even touched it, Brian’s house. It’s still standing up.

“I did ask about signs, I heard nothing. Somebody went past and said you’ve got a couple of minutes that’s all I had. I just grabbed my car, my girlfriend grabbed her car and just got out.

“I couldn’t go back, no. All my neighbours are not going back. They’re all leaving. They couldn’t face it no more.”

Scott Blaker spent Friday night in Yarloop. He said it was a frightening, crazy night.

“Around 6:30pm the glow started coming around town and there was ash everywhere and fire brigades moving up and down the road, but no one was doing anything to get us out of the place. So no one quite knew what was happening at that stage,” he said.

“Then we moved down to the oval and from there the firies came down and they just moved us more on to the oval, and we just had to watch this wall of fire move around us.

Scott Blaker
Yarloop resident Scott Blaker lost his house in the bushfire that ripped through the town. Photo: ABC

“It was a hectic night, no one got much sleep, it was crazy.”

Two bodies were found in burned out homes in Yarloop on Saturday, after the blaze overwhelmed the town on Friday night.

The remains are believed to be of a 77-year-old man and a 73-year-old man.

Mr Blaker said there was about 75 people ranging from babies to the elderly escaping the blaze.

“Everyone was a bit shaken up, nobody knew what the plan was, the glow around was amazing, the smoke, everyone’s eyes were buggered up from it,” he said.

“It was quite frightening, it was my first time and it definitely spooked me, I am just glad everybody got out.”

He said his property had been gutted and burnt to the ground.

“We hadn’t had too much communication, a lot of us thought we weren’t really affected – it was more Waroona at the time. It hit that quick,” he said.

“There was no water. Around 10:30 in the morning I noticed my water had been cut off, you couldn’t get much more than a trickle out of the hoses.

“The firies were running out of water, there was pretty much no water in the town whatsoever, so people that wanted to stay and defend their house, there wasn’t much they could do.

“I reckon it will be at least a week [before we can go back in]. I’ve seen the damage and there are too many power poles and that down. It is going to be an extensive clean up.”

The fire was started by lightning on Wednesday and has burned in excess of 72,000 hectares and destroyed 143 properties.

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