Out-of-control blaze was ‘chaos’ for firies

Stuart McGuckin and Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
The fire destroyed this 50-year-old hobby vineyard.
Camera IconThe fire destroyed this 50-year-old hobby vineyard. Credit: Stuart McGuckin / South Western Times

Firefighters have described how an out-of-control bushfire at the weekend could have been “potentially disastrous” as the blaze headed directly towards homes in Allanson with firies fighting a “losing battle”.

The massive blaze caused $1 million in damage and hospitalised six firefighters as fire crews feared the worst with trucks surrounded by fire and running out of water before air attack bombers provided some relief.

Shire of Collie bushfire control officer Julian Martin said he truly believed homes and lives were under threat during Sunday’s blaze.

“If we had not had the resources and had the resources not worked so well, right now we’d be putting out smouldering houses all throughout Allanson,” Mr Martin said.

“The fact that we’ve had six firefighters treated and assessed for medical issues relating to dehydration, smoke inhalation, heat stress etc. speaks for itself – that’s not normal for a fire event.”

Patches of green broke up a largely blackened landscape.
Camera IconPatches of green broke up a largely blackened landscape. Credit: Stuart McGuckin / South Western Times

“To have any firefighters carted away, let alone have that many.”

Firefighters worked throughout the day and night on Monday with fears the blaze would reignite.

“There’s a patch of bush where probably our greatest risk is going to be if an ember comes from a tree that’s burning, throws it outside, off she goes again and we’re back to square one,” Mr Martin said.

The blaze burnt through 160ha of land, including a 50-year-old hobby vineyard, before firefighters fully contained the fire by about 10.40pm.

An emergency warning was issued with property owners told to evacuate or prepare to fight the flames.

Fire ripped through nearly 160ha near Allanson on Sunday.
Camera IconFire ripped through nearly 160ha near Allanson on Sunday. Credit: Stuart McGuckin / South Western Times

No homes were damaged, but Mr Martin said battling the blaze as it came within 150m of houses was “chaos”.

“Trying to defend the homes and properties that were in the path of the fire was almost a degree of chaos because they were fighting a losing battle,” he said.

“There was fireballs rolling over the roofs of some of the houses out there, one of them was surrounded by fire and basically this house was enveloped in an alcove of bushland and all of the trees around the house were on fire.

“They were fighting a losing battle, it was almost potentially disastrous and not only could we have lost a house but we could have severely injured firefighters.

“The fact that they were able to stop it, it’s just a testament to the effort they put in.”

Fire ripped through nearly 160ha near Allanson last Sunday.
Camera IconFire ripped through nearly 160ha near Allanson last Sunday. Credit: Stuart McGuckin / South Western Times

Department of Fire and Emergency Services South West Supt Peter Norman echoed the praise of firefighters saying they battled hard in “extreme” conditions.

“In those sort of conditions ... their commitment is vital and without them we would lose towns,” Supt Norman said.

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