Fatal bushfire under control

Fatal bushfire under control

9 January 2008

published by www.news.com.au

Australia — A huge bushfire in Western Australia’s Goldfields region has been contained and authorities are considering reopening a highway on which three men were killed.

The fire, which broke out 13 days ago, has burned about 45,000ha in the Boorabbin National Park and surrounding areas between Southern Cross and Coolgardie.

The Great Eastern Highway was shut after three WA men were killed on December 30 when their trucks were trapped by flames on either side of the road.

The men were part of a convoy of up to 15 trucks which had been told it was safe to travel down the road despite weather bureau warnings of an expected significant wind change.

More than 100 firefighters have been fighting the blaze.

Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) Kalgoorlie incident controller Peter Keppel said containment lines resisted yesterday’s thunderstorms and 39C temperatures.

“It’s contained at the moment. Weather conditions yesterday tested the containment, it was quite severe fire weather,” Mr Keppel said.

“We will work on consolidating that position today.”

Federal Liberal member for Kalgoorlie Barry Haase earlier this week called for the Great Eastern Highway to be immediately reopened, saying it was proving costly to the interstate freight trade.

The DEC, the lead agency which will ultimately decide on reopening the road, said public safety was its priority.

“We are in the continuous process of reviewing the reopening of the highway, we will do that as soon as we can,” Mr Keppel said.

“We are very much aware of the impact that has on the community, but the safety of the public is the primary priority.”

Main Roads Department spokesman Dean Roberts said a meeting would be held with the DEC today and the highway could be reopened today or tomorrow.

Lightning strikes yesterday sparked new fires throughout the southwest of the state.

One of the last remaining routes between Perth and South Australia was cut off yesterday when a fire closed the Norseman to Hyden Road.

But the Shire of Dundas today said the road had been reopened.

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