Australia — MORE than 100 Yarra Valley residents have spent thousands of dollars on government-accredited underground safety bunkers as part of their bushfire survival plans.
Wildfire Safety Bunkers managing director Anthony Tratt said his shelters had drawn enormous interest from customers across the Yarra Valley.
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Mr Tratt said since his business got government accreditation in March 2010 it had installed 125 shelter units in the Yarra Valley.
Mt Toolebewong resident Michelle Davies had her bunker installed in September last year.
She said it was her first priority when she bought her Nyora Rd property 18 months ago.
Ms Davies, a breast cancer survivor who operates a holistic retreat on her 4ha land for people who have had illnesses, said her plan was to leave the mountain on code red fire danger days.
“The shelter is a last resort if I can’t leave the mountain because trees have fallen and blocked the road,” Ms Davies said.
“It is also for the safety of any visitors I may have on the property,” she said.
Ms Davies said the bunker could hold six people for one hour or one person for six hours.
She said the Victoria Building Council-accredited six-person shelter cost about $14,000 and she planned to have another one installed.
Mr Tratt said hundreds of people in fire-prone areas nationwide contacted the business every fire season to get bunkers the only accredited private bushfire shelters in Australia installed on their properties.
“It’s another tool used in Yarra Ranges residents’ fire plans,” Mr Tratt said.
Yarra Ranges Council mayor Jim Child said people should consider all the safety options available.