Tourists moved to beach as bushfire threatens eco-resort north of Broome

Tourists moved to beach as bushfire threatens eco-resort north of Broome

21 August 2013

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Australia — The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) issued an evacuation order for the Kooljaman resort, at Cape Leveque about 200 kilometres north of Broome.

Managers at the resort contacted emergency services at about 2:00 pm, saying the fire had moved close to their safari tents and reception buildings.

DFES promptly issued an emergency warning but that has now been downgraded to a watch and act.

With temperatures in the mid-30s and the wind picking up, the department said the fire was moving quickly and lives were at risk.

Firefighters flew by helicopter to the area and say about 200 guests are safe although one person has had to be treated for heatstroke.

Crews assessed the scene and District Superintendant Grant Pipe says the early indications are good.

“I’ve got some better news in the sense that everyone’s safe at that location.” he says.

“We haven’t got any loss of life or any issues with infrastructure.

“We’ve got one person with heat-related illness and they’ve been attended to by an ambulance.”

It is understood the tourist is being transported to Broome by ambulance.

It is the middle of the Kimberley tourist season and the area is busy with holiday-makers.

Fire crews say the risk has receded slightly.

Local Indigenous rangers are also at the scene, establishing fire breaks to try and protect infrastructure.

The Kimberley is coming into its driest months, when the fire risk is greatest and extra crews and fire-trucks are brought up from Perth to assist.

Arson is a problem in the region each year, and fire-fighters have had to extinguish at least a dozen deliberately lit fires in the Kimberley in the last month alone.

Superintendent Pipe says it’s not known if this latest blaze was the result of arson.

“It’s too early to tell at this point of time, but it certainly was a big and fast-moving fire.”

“We’d warned today that we had severe fire weather expected and it certainly was that, a big and fast-moving fire that pushed towards Kooljaman Resort in a short amount of time.”

Meanwhile, DFES has issued a bushfire advice for a separate fire burning 50 kilometres north of Broome.

Authorities say there is no threat to lives or homes but the advice has been issued for people camping and travelling near Waterbank station between Cape Leveque Road and Manari Road.

The fire is moving fast in a westerly direction, and is out of control and unpredictable.

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