The big clean-up of Piara Waters Park is already underway after an out-of-control bushfire engulfed a playground, threatened homes and caused widespread panic on Saturday afternoon.
Firefighters were already battling blazes east of Mandurah, in the Serpentine National Park and in Canning Mills when the fast-moving fire broke out in the Piara Waters parkland bordered by Wright Rd, Guerin Ave, Columbia Pkwy and Mason Rd just before 4pm.
Residents were told they were in danger and needed to act immediately to survive after DFES issued an Emergency Warning just before 4.30pm after the wind picked up.
Firefighting crews battled to save homes from flames which came within metres of properties, and from a sustained ember attack which ignited verges on properties bordering the parkland.
By 5.30pm the threat was downgraded with residents told to remain alert.
Adulation for the firies and their quick response has been flooding social media.
“Our house is very near the fire and we are grateful for your quick response. God bless you all,” Rhoda Zamora said.
“A huge thanks to all the services that responded and saved our neighbours’ homes,” Billie Richards said.
“Thank you for your service. This was two streets away from my house, very scary for all indeed.” – Becca Kim
On Sunday, City of Armadale work crews came to isolate the electric barbecues and other electrical devices and set up exclusion zones with tape.
The city has said there is “extensive damage to the park, including but not limited to the trees and vegetation, the boardwalks, the playground and equipment, fencing, irrigation and other miscellaneous items like the bins”.
Cyclone fencing was installed around the perimeter of the park on Monday while workers dismantled the melted playground equipment and dozers raked the contaminated mulch into piles for removal.
From the perimeter it is clear that the fire was furious – not a single tree was untouched and flames reached the highest branches of trees up to five metres tall. The ground is completely scorched and the smell of charcoal is thick in the air.
Mayor Ruth Butterfield said that work was continuing to ensure the area was safe whilst the clean-up continues, with all damaged assets, equipment and debris to be removed.
“An arborist has visited the site to assess the integrity of the trees and will continue to monitor and advise accordingly,” she said.
The extent of the damage is still being assessed and Mayor Butterfield said she was unable to provide an estimate of costs to repair the park just yet.
“The city will be working with its insurers on this matter,” she said.
Rumours are still circulating in the community about the cause of the fire.
DFES has linked many of Saturday’s blazes to lightning strikes but those fires are situated in thick bushland.
Piara Waters is a dense residential hub with very thin veins of vegetation running through – seemingly one of the least likely places in the City of Armadale to be threatened by bushfire.
Police have confirmed the arson squad is currently investigating whether the Piara Waters Park fire was deliberately lit.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers.
It’s been a brutal start to the fire season for Western Australia. As of Wednesday, more than 100 fires are still burning across the state.
“What a challenging couple of days it has been. Thank you to the hundreds of career, volunteer, and Parks and Wildlife firefighters and personnel who have worked around the clock to save lives and homes from bushfires,” a statement from DFES said.