Quick thinking averts disaster in Bedfordale

Quick thinking averts disaster in Bedfordale

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From Red Hill, to Bedfordale to Waroona – local crews have been flat out this past week. Photograph – Lieutenant Ben Coles, Roleystone Karragullen Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade

A huge effort from over 100 career and volunteer firefighters kept homes safe as an out-of-control bushfire in Bedfordale raged on Friday.

The fire is being treated as suspicious and is reported to have started in bushland on Curtis Rd around lunchtime.

Friday was a Total Fire Ban Day.

The fire was initially being managed by the City of Armadale, but by 2.20pm, and with winds whipping through the hills, it was clear more help was required and it was handed over to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) who issued an Emergency Warning.

Students from the Southern Hills Christian College and children from the Djinda Dreaming Childcare Centre were evacuated, and residents were forced to flee their homes as the bushfire spread rapaciously.

Some residents were reportedly removed from their homes by authorities in the late afternoon, with some commenting that they’d never experienced anything like the intensity of this fire.

An evacuation centre for displaced residents was set up at the Armadale Arena after Southern Hills College students had been collected. It was a nervous wait for many as flames edged closer to property boundaries.

A huge number of resources was thrown at combatting the blaze, with hundreds of homes at risk amongst the tinder-dry bush.

Five fixed-wing air bombers and four helitaks were deployed to douse the flames. And teams of firefighters from Bedfordale, Armadale, Roleystone, Roleystone-Karagullen, Byford, Oakford, Gosnells, Maddington, Mundijong, Jarrahdale, Jandakot, Rockingham, Midland, Pickering Brook, Hope Valley, Kalamunda and even Joondalup worked through the night to control the blaze.

At the hairiest of moments, flames are reported to have come within 500m of homes along Springfield Rd, with a wall of flame being propelled by strong winds.

Thankfully, quick-thinking from local crews changed the course of the battle and the firefighters began to gain the upper hand.

Relieved residents started returning to their homes the following morning and the fire was contained and controlled by 2.46pm on Saturday.

Charred bushland from the Bedfordale fire. Photograph – Bree Higgins, Bedfordale Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade.

Mayor Ruth Butterfield has confirmed there was no damage to property.

“The city is grateful for the quick response from our emergency services in responding to the fire in Bedfordale,” she said.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts from all the volunteer and career firefighters from the city and DFES, along with all the support staff and personnel that helped coordinate the efforts to combat the fire.”

The local community has gone all out to thank their local firefighting heroes who saved countless homes over the weekend.

“In times of crisis, the strength of a community truly shines through, and we have been overwhelmed by the incredible support we’ve received in the aftermath of the recent fire,” Bedfordale Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade Captain Wayne Birss said.

“From neighbours lending a helping hand to strangers offering shelter, the outpouring of kindness and solidarity has been heart-warming.

“This fire hit close to home, a stark reminder of the importance of preparedness and vigilance in the face of bushfires. We urge everyone to prioritise maintaining their properties and having a comprehensive bush fire-ready plan.

“Remember, we are all in this together, and as volunteers, we are here to support and assist you every step of the way. Let’s continue to stand united as a community, ready to face any challenge that comes our way.”

The cause of the fire is still being investigated by Strike Force Vulcan.

Local state members and the mayor and councillors from the City of Armadale helped the Salvation Army WA Emergency Services prepare hot meals for hungry firefighters. Photograph – Salvation Army

Just as soon as local firefighters had extinguished the blaze in their own backyard, they were called upon to help with an even bigger blaze in Waroona, which is proving tricky to get a hold of.

The fire has destroyed three homes and five short-stay accommodation units, and chewed through over 3000 hectares.

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm has said they believe that blaze was accidentally sparked by campers.

“They were trying to recharge some phones or the like off their car battery and something’s gone awry with that,” he said.

“The fact that there has been no loss of life is testament to the hard work of our firefighters and the strategic use of aircraft.

“At its peak on Saturday night embers were spotting three to four kilometres in front of the head fire.”

On Tuesday he confirmed that no charges would be laid against the campers, despite there being three families now without homes as a result of their actions.

Local federal member Andrew Hastie said he was devastated to hear people had lost homes, but reassured the public that everything was being done to contain the fire.

“Our brave WA firefighters, emergency services personnel, and dedicated volunteers are working around the clock to battle this blaze, facing extremely difficult conditions to protect lives, homes, and our environment. I thank them for their service,” he said.

“Waroona is a beautiful part of our area and is home to nearly 3000 people.

“Our community has shown time and time again that we are resilient and strong in the face of adversity, and I have no doubt the Waroona community will get through this together.”