Residents in remote WA have spoken of the stress of defending homes as authorities downgrade an emergency warning to watch and act for the Kununurra suburb of Lakeside.
While the alert level was downgraded on Sunday evening, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said there was still a possible threat to lives and homes in the area bounded by Victoria Highway, Drovers Road and Lily Creek, as a fire continued to burn in the area and conditions were changing.
Three homes were damaged earlier after an out-of-control fire ravaged the remote town.
Dozens were evacuated while some residents stayed to defend their homes on Sunday afternoon. At one point DFES warned residents it was too late to leave and said they must shelter in their homes.
Local resident Natika Hawes-Wright said she had to help defend her neighbours’ homes.
“People were away for the long weekend or out for the day, so there were spot fires in their yards. Simon and my son jumped over their fences,” Ms Hawes-Wright said.
“One guy’s washing was on fire on his line, so they put that out.”
There is also a Watch and Act warning for an area bounded by Weaber Plain Road, Victoria Highway, Caldesia Loop and Stockman Road.
Lee Clucas says the blaze came to the end of her street.
“It has been absolutely crazy and terrifying. The park lit up. It jumped the fences of people’s homes,” she said.
“People’s backyards, just the mulch in their backyards started burning, really scary stuff.”
Wayne Cook from DFES said there had been reports of house damage.
“Mainly on the eastern side of Lakeside there have been about three reported cases, reported house fires where it’s got into the roof space of three houses, at this stage I can’t confirm how much damage has been done,” he said.
“So at the moment we’re just dealing with any spot fires around the area, so if people are, if they feel at any risk to evacuate, we do have the emergency evacuation centre opening at the leisure centre at Kununurra at the leisure centre, so if there are concerns they can evacuate to there.
“If people could just remain vigilant around any spot fires, again, we’re doing the best we can with the resources we have. If people could just remain calm. And if there are concerns, go to the evacuation centre or go to a safe place around their area.”
Emergency services personnel are working on Victoria Highway between Weaber Plain Road and Bull Run Road and motorists have been asked to avoid the area and drive carefully due to smoke.
There is also a Watch and Act warning for an area bounded by Weaber Plain Road, Victoria Highway and Stockman Road.