CHRIST­MAS BLAZE

Albany Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - John Dob­son and Tom Zaun­mayr

Bremer Bay was on watch as a bush­fire tore through more than 8000ha near the south coastal town at the week­end, with more than 100 fire­fight­ers bat­tling the blaze which was sparked by light­ning. Mia and Ava Ben­son watch the fire front from the beach.

A light­ning strike is be­lieved to have sparked a mas­sive bush­fire which tore through more than 8000ha near Bremer Bay at the week­end.

At its peak on Satur­day, more than 100 fire­fight­ers and wa­ter bombers were bat­tling the blaze west of Bremer Bay which started on Fri­day.

The town of Bremer Bay and much of the coast west of the town­site, in­clud­ing pop­u­lar camp­ing ar­eas, were un­der a Watch and Act for sev­eral days as the blaze was fanned by strong winds.

For 48 hours tourists were told to de­fer travel plans to the beach­side town as the Bor­den-Bremer Bay Road, one of the town’s two main en­try roads, was closed be­cause of the prox­im­ity of the blaze.

The town’s pop­u­la­tion can swell dur­ing Christ­mas from 300 to more than 2000. Res­i­dents and hol­i­day­mak­ers were on alert on Mon­day with the fire still pos­ing a threat to lives and homes, with hun­dreds of vis­i­tors ex­pected to the town.

The threat eased at mid­day on Christ­mas Eve with favourable con­di­tions al­low­ing vis­i­tors ac­cess to the town.

Well­stead Mu­seum and Cafe man­ager Sarah Hall said a lot of peo­ple were ex­hausted from fight- ing the blaze and sup­port­ing crews, but the town’s res­i­dents were re­main­ing pos­i­tive.

“Ev­ery­one is do­ing their bit, that is the good thing about small com­mu­ni­ties — it’s that ev­ery­one pulls to­gether,” she said.

“It is a busy time of year with a lot of peo­ple still out har­vest­ing . . . and at this time of year it re­ally ex­plodes with peo­ple.

“It has been a pretty full-on week, but it is what it is.”

Busi­nesses in town have been pro­vid­ing food and ac­com­mo­da­tion for crews bat­tling the blaze.

The fire started near the in­ter­sec­tion of the Bor­den-Bremer Bay Road and War­ra­mur­rup Road.

The fire was burn­ing on the western side of Dil­lon Bay Road.

The Depart­ment for Child Pro­tec­tion and Fam­ily Sup­port set up a tem­po­rary evac­u­a­tion cen­tre at the Jer­ra­mungup Recre­ation Cen­tre.

Pic­ture: Ke­iron Ben­son

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