Fires still pose big threat

Fires still posebig threat

6 February 2007

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Australia —  Firefightersbattling a big bush fire that destroyed 16 homes near Dwellingup over theweekend will spend today racing to build containment lines before tomorrow’s hotweather arrives.

Fire authorities are trying to secure the southern perimeter of the fire thatis burning just 7km from the town of Waroona before tomorrow’s predictedsweltering 42C and strong north-west winds.

Department of Environment and Conservation’s acting fire management servicesmanager Terry Maher said the fire had a 100km perimeter and was burning indifficult terrain.

“The western and eastern edges are good but we still have considerablework to do along the southern boundary,” Mr Maher said.

“The terrain along this edge is steep in parts and access is difficult.

“Consequently, we will have to burn out any pockets between thecontainment lines and the fire. This is to ensure those unburnt pockets don’tflare up under the hot, strong northerly winds forecast for Wednesday.”

A Department of Environment and Conservation spokesman said this morning thatwork was focused in an area around the Murray River, with fire fighters usingbulldozers and heavy machinery to cut fire breaks.

It was once again a busy night for fire fighters, with crews battling anumber of blazes across the State.

The Department’s fire crews fought a fire near Pemberton, bringing it undercontrol about 6.30am.

Firefighters have also bought under control fires in Hope Valley, Yanchep,Forrestfield and in the John Forrest National Park yesterday.

Fire and Emergency Services Authority spokesman Alan Gale said fire crewswere called to three fires in Yanchep, Joondalup and Hope Valley last night.

The fires in Joondalup, near Upney Mews, was quickly bought under control butfire fighters battled a blaze in Hope Valley that was started after a stolen carwas torched.

The fire jumped containment lines but was bought under control about 5.50am.

Mr Gale said that mopping up operations would continue today, with officersstill at the scene of the fires to monitor any potential hot spots.

Public meetings were held in the Waroona town hall and the Dwellingup sportsoval this morning, with another meeting at Fairbridge at 1pm, to updateresidents about the fires.

Meanwhile the State Government has declared a bushfire emergency period forWA’s south, during which no fires can be lit without permission from EmergencyServices Minister John Kobelke.

The Government is offering a $200,000 reward for anyone who providesinformation leading to the conviction of an arsonist.

Main Roads is also warning that the South Western Highway between Old BunburyRoad (5km south of Pinjarra) and Waroona is closed until further notice.

The Pinjarra Williams Road between Pinjarra and Dwellingup is also closed.

Main Roads have issued a warning to motorists travelling in the area to bewary of stray stock as many farm fences have been destroyed by fire.

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