Fire crews are bracing themselves for a torrid weekend, in the face of forecast possible thunderstorms and temperatures in the 40s across the South-West land division, from Kalbarri to Esperance.
Environment Minister Tony McRae said the outlook meant Fire and Emergency Services personnel, local volunteer brigades and Department of Environment and Conservation fire crews would be on immediate standby to respond to fires that might break out.
Mr McRae said DEC had cancelled rostered days off for staff and would maintain constant surveillance over the South-West forests through its spotter aircraft fleet and network of lookout towers between Wanneroo and Walpole.
“Department crews have been working in the past few days to secure any prescribed burns currently active so they will be available to respond to fire call-outs,” he said.
“DEC has put all available crews on standby for the weekend and Monday.
“The State Government has allocated an additional $5.5million to DEC this year for additional resources including more heavy duty tankers, heavy earth-moving machinery and low loaders which enable the machines to be transported quickly to fires.
“New machines and loaders already have been stationed at Wanneroo, Mundaring, Harvey and Walpole.
“As well, DEC and FESA have access to water bombers in Perth, Bunbury, Manjimup and Albany, as well as four fire-fighting helicopters based in Perth.”
The Minister urged visitors to national parks and other conservation reserves to be especially careful and to heed bush fire bans that might apply over the hot spell.
Homeowners are also being urged, particularly in areas such as the Perth Hills, to clear up loose-leaf material and undergrowth from around their properties.
“Fires are an unfortunate fact of life in Western Australia but we all need to be aware of what to do to protect lives and property,” Mr McRae said.
“Any fallen debris or combustible material should be cleared from around homes and buildings and all precautions taken in case a fire should start.
“ Our fire services are well prepared and do an excellent job in protecting people and property.
“We know bushfires from lightning strikes are inevitable but if people have made the necessary preparations, there is a greater chance that fires can be contained and will be less of a threat.
“Everyone is asked to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities.”
Penalties of up to 14 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 can apply for deliberately lit fires.
Minister's office - 9213 7150