A year on from the bushfires that devastated properties and lives along the Margaret River coast, residents are seeking some solace in rebuilding even though their anguish remains.
The black anniversary would be celebrated tonight at a Riflebutts barbecue, and although the event would be low key, some said they were unsure about attending due to the emotions it would revive.
Several residents said they were still too upset or angry to talk about the fire.
Others said they were only now starting to work through their feelings and look to the future.
Wooditch Road resident John Bradbury said although a year had passed since the fire destroyed his six-year project home, he didn’t expect to feel normal until he was living back on the block.
Effectively it’s going to take two years out of our lives, he said.
It’ll be another 12 months until the building program is finished. I’ve had to put my business on hold to concentrate on getting back to where we were before the fire.
He no longer felt angry about what happened, but had moments of anguish while trying to rebuild his life.
Orchid Ramble’s Lane Alver said he had since lost faith in the Government’s emergency services.
In terms of the response group, like the (volunteers) who fought the fire, I have no problems and nothing but respect for them, he said.
But in respect to the Department of Environment and Conservation, I don’t have any confidence in them.
However Jane Lewis, who defended her Redgate property using a special fire bunker at her home, told the Times>not enough credit was given to on the ground DEC staff who carried out their jobs professionally in the face of community anger.
It’s been hard for them to turn up to places and see what’s happened, she said.
Professional firefighter and Kilcarnup resident Greg Penney said his only hope was that the region never faced another disaster like last year.
Mr Penney, who joined a special strike group of firefighters from Bunbury to defend Kilcarnup, said fighting the fire was an overwhelming experience.
He also felt fortunate his house wasn’t collateral damage in the prescribed burn gone wrong. A freak gust of wind was the only thing that saved it, he said. The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.