An out of control fire which threatened several homes and schools in the Armadale area and loomed in a few areas within the City of Gosnells was finally given the all clear on Saturday afternoon.
The fire, which was first reported at 12.09pm on February 7, was the result of a lightning strike which had struck a tree two days earlier near the intersection of Forrest Road and Tonkin Highway.
At the height of the fire about 200 firefighters from crews across the Perth metropolitan area and South West were tackling the blaze which tore through more than 150 hectares of bushland.
Members from St John Ambulance, the Salvation Army, SES crews, WA Police, Main Roads, Water Corporation and the City of Armadale also helped with response efforts with an incident control point stationed at Sienna Woods information centre in Hilbert.
The fire came within metres of numerous homes and businesses including Seadragonz Swim School in Allen Road, Forrestdale.
Owner Lari McDonald said it stopped on the eastern boundary of the property and came within 30 metres of the pool.
“With the weather being really hot and strong winds we knew it had the capacity to be catastrophic,” she said.
“We watched it grow and knew by the afternoon it was time to swing our emergency plan into gear.
“Our staff worked together to help customers with children and get them on their way to safety and our final step was to secure the premises and do whatever we could to keep the place wet.”
Staff and students were evacuated from nearby Forrestdale Primary and were taken in busloads to Neerigen Brook Primary in Armadale.
Forrestdale Primary, St John Bosco College, Harrisdale Primary and Harrisdale Senior High remained closed on Friday and reopened on Monday.
Banjup resident Sarah McCarrol said her nine-year-old twins were fine when she picked them up from Neerigen Brook Primary on Thursday afternoon.
“I think it was a bit of an adventure for them to be honest,” she said.
“I received a text from the school at about 1.45pm saying the staff were evacuating to Neerigen Brook and that we shouldn’t go to Forrestdale to pick them up.”
The fire also forced a number of roads in the area to be closed, including Tonkin Highway in both directions at the height of the incident.
An evacuation centre was also set up at Armadale Arena.