Bushfire EMERGENCY WARNING for Grass Patch, Salmon Gums and surrounding areas in the Shire of Esperance 

ALERT LEVEL:
A bushfire EMERGENCY WARNING has been issued for people Grass Patch, Salmon Gums and surrounding areas in the Shire of Esperance.

  • You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes.
  • Homes in Salmon Gums and Grass Patch are under threat by fire now.
  • The fire started north of Cascade and is now burning on both sides of the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway, between Scaddan and Salmon Gums.

BUSHFIRE BEHAVIOUR:

  • The bushfire is moving slowly in a north easterly direction.
  • It is out of control and unpredictable.
  • Flames are up to 2 metres high.
  • Firefighters are expecting westerly winds.
  • This means the fire may move in an easterly direction.

WHAT TO DO:

  • If the way is clear, leave now for a safer place.
  • Do not wait and see, leaving at the last minute is deadly.
  • If your plan is to stay and actively defend, do not rely on mains water pressure as it may be affected. If you have access to a water tank and plan to defend your home, start patrolling with your hose and put out spot fires.
  • If you cannot leave, you need to get ready to shelter in your home and actively defend it.
  • If you are not at home, it is too dangerous now to return.

SAFER PLACE:

  • People in Salmon Gums are being relocated to Norseman or Esperance.
  • The Department for Child Protection and Family Support has also set up a temporary evacuation centre at the Esperance Civic Centre on Council Place, Esperance.

ROAD CLOSURES:
Avoid the area and be aware of fire and other emergency services personnel working on site.

A number of roads have been closed including:

  • Coolgardie-Esperance Highway, north of the Gibson townsite.
  • Merivale Road, east of Fisheries Road.

COMMUNITY MEETING:

A community meeting will be held today at 10am at the Esperance Civic Centre.

SCHOOLS:

The Department of Education has advised that the following schools will be closed tomorrow:

  • Scaddan Primary School
  • Grass Patch Primary School
  • Salmon Gums Primary School

For further details visit www.det.wa.edu.au/emergency.

WHAT FIREFIGHTERS ARE DOING:

  • Volunteer Bush Fire Service firefighters are on the scene.
  • Firefighters are working to assist people relocate from the area.
  • Aerial support is enroute to the incident.

EXTRA INFORMATION:

  • The fire was reported at 7am on Sunday 15 November and currently approximately 300,000 hectares have been burnt.
  • The cause of the fire is lightning.
  • DFES managing the fire.

 

KEEP UP TO DATE:
Visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au, call 13 DFES (13 3337), follow DFES on Twitter @dfes_wa, listen to ABC local radio, or news bulletins.

Boronia Ridge landowner fined $200K plus costs for illegal clearing

Local environment activist Jess Beckerling called the Weekly office yesterday afternoon (after today’s Oct 14 edition of the newspaper had gone to print) to tell us of this news.

Soon after the Shire of Manjimup released the following media release:

October 13, 2015: A magistrate has today [Tuesday, Oct 13] ruled that a penalty of $200,000, plus costs, be paid by Walpole landowner Sunland Pty Ltd for an act of unauthorised clearing works.  The ruling is in favour of the Shire of Manjimup.  This landmark case resulted when the Council voted to commence legal proceedings against the company, for direct contravention of clearing provisions established within the Shire of Manjimup Local Planning Scheme No. 4.

Continue reading Boronia Ridge landowner fined $200K plus costs for illegal clearing

Coalmine Beach Boat Ramp to remain open

Contrary to what was advertised in the October 7, 2015 Walpole Weekly, the Department of Parks & Wildlife (DPaW) wish to advise that the works in the vicinity of the Coalmine Beach Boat Ramp, October 12-16, have been postponed until further notice.

Please note the boat ramp and lower car park will remain open over this period of time

DPaW apologises for any inconvenience.

If you require further information please contact DPaW on 9840 0400.

DPaW “committed” to Marine Park. However …

The Department of Parks and Wildlife​ (DPaW) has responded to the Walpole Weekly‘s queries regarding the possible axing of the Walpole & Nornalup Inlets Marine Park coordinator position as follows (attributed to “a Parks and Wildlife spokesperson”):

“The department is committed to a full time marine park ranger to ensure ongoing effective management of the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park.

“However, the challenging financial climate requires Parks and Wildlife to examine staffing structures around the State to avoid duplication and overlap between roles.

Continue reading DPaW “committed” to Marine Park. However …

South Western Highway to reopen tomorrow

The Shire of Manjimup’s estimate last Friday (Feb 13) of at least two weeks until the South Western Highway would reopen has proven to be ultra-conservative.

The good news from Main Roads WA today is that the Highway will open tomorrow (Feb 20).

Main Roads’ full media release, as follows:

A 30 kilometre section of South Western Highway in the State’s south-west is due to reopen to traffic tomorrow evening following this month’s devastating bushfires in the region.

Main Roads WA work crews have been repairing minor damage to the road surface and the clean-up of burnt roadside vegetation will continue over the weekend.

Main Roads Executive Director of Regional Services, John Erceg, said the highway would remain open under speed restrictions.

A 30 kilometre section of the highway connecting to Walpole in the Manjimup Shire has been closed to traffic for several weeks due to the fires, and there was minor damage to the road at various locations.

The section remained closed while fire damaged tall trees on the roadside were pruned or removed.

“The fact that we are able to re-open the road ahead of the Labour Day long weekend next week is good news for commuters in the area as well as the tourism industry and the town of Walpole,” Mr Erceg said.

“We were always mindful of the impacts to businesses in the Walpole district the longer the highway remained closed.

“The re-opening also means that tourist traffic from Perth will be able to travel the South Western Highway unimpeded over the long weekend.”

For more information on road conditions throughout the State go to www.mainroads.wa.gov.au or ring the Main Roads Customer Information Centre on 138 138.

Shire meeting in Walpole Friday

Shire President Wade de Campo, Cr Dave Tapley, and other representatives of the Shire of Manjimup will hold a meeting tomorrow (Friday, February 13) in Walpole to learn about the challenges faced by our community due to road closures and other ramifications of the bushfires; and any other issue of concern to residents.

Members of the Walpole & Districts community are welcome to participate in the meeting, which will take place at 1:00pm at the Walpole Community Resource Centre, Latham Avenue, Walpole.

Please spread the word. (Try using the share links at the top right of this post.)

Smoke in the water; benzene too?

North Walpole resident Louis Beckerling noticed that the water in his rainwater tank tasted smokey so he investigated its implications.

Concerned that there might be unhealthy levels of the carcinogenic chemical compound benzene in his water supply, Mr Beckerling called the Department of Health who referred him to the Shire of Manjimup.

In an emailed follow-up to a telephone conversation, the Shire’s Environmental Health Technician Sheri Laba informed Mr Beckerling that the Shire can provide microbial testing, but chemical testing must be carried out independently.

“Unfortunately the associated costs are not covered,” Ms Laba wrote. “The cost for the Shire to come and take microbial samples would be $60, and results would take about a week.

“The Shire is currently exploring the option of providing 5000 litres of potable water to rural residents (not on scheme water) affected by the fire.

“Some research is being done to clarify the information required from land holders eg. tank damage, contamination of tank, fittings, access etc.”

Mr Beckerling understands that the Shire of Manjimup is trucking drinking water into Northcliffe and providing 5,000 litres per family.

“They will consider trucking water into Walpole depending on how many households are affected,” he said.

Cr Dave Tapley told the Weekly that he would raise the issue at a fires-related meeting with representatives of the Shire, which is tentatively planned to take place in Walpole on Friday (Feb 13).

He said he will attend Business After Hours at the Walpole CRC this evening (Feb 11 from 5:30pm) and will listen to any concerns Walpole & Districts residents may have.

Resources

 

Fire concerns eased at Community Hall

Favourable prevailing winds and large tracts of land north and northwest of Walpole that saw prescribed burning between a year and four years ago are two of the factors that combine to lessen authorities’ concerns about Walpole.

Nevertheless, as at 1:00 pm on February 6, North Walpole remains on a Department of Fire & Emergency Services (DFES) “Watch & Act” alert while Walpole town is on an “Advice” level warning.

DPaW's Allison Donovan led the DPaW presentation to the community, answered questions from the floor, and at the conclusion of the meeting helped individuals better understand the maps on display.
DPaW’s Allison Donovan (left) led a DPaW presentation to the community, answered questions from the floor, and, at the conclusion of the meeting, helped individuals better understand the maps on display.

Department of Parks & Wildlife (DPaW) Frankland District Manager Allison Donovan led a presentation and Q&A regarding the fires to the northeast of Walpole.

A few of the questions raised from the audience in the packed Community Hall that received definitive answers, included:

  • Western Power’s planned power outage for tomorrow (Feb 7) will not take place. It is unclear whether the planned outage on Feb 11 will occur.
  • The evacuation point for those who may need it has shifted from Walpole Sport & Recreation Centre to the equivalent facility in Denmark.
  • All National Parks and associated facilities in the area are closed to the public. The Walpole & Nornalup Inlets Marine Park remains open to boaters and fishos.

DPaW reiterates that DFES’ alert service at dfes.wa.gov.au/alerts remains the primary, definitive source of information for the public.

Towards the end of the Q&A part of proceedings, Emergency Services Medallist Alex Williams asked the assembled to consider joining one of the volunteer emergency services, particularly the local Bush Fire and Fire & Rescue groups.