Above-average fuel loads ‘concerning’ ahead of bushire season, Mid West residents urged to plan ahead

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
DFES is encouraging Mid West residents to come up with an action plan ahead of the upcoming bushfire season.
Camera IconDFES is encouraging Mid West residents to come up with an action plan ahead of the upcoming bushfire season. Credit: Evan Collis/DFES

Make sure you have an action plan for the bushfire season — it could save you and your family’s life.

That’s the message from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, which has raised concerns above-average rainfall has led to larger fuel loads on the ground.

DFES Mid West Gascoyne Supt Craig Smith said it did not take long for greenery to turn into dry tinder.

“The rain we had earlier in the year creates that growth,” he said.

“It just takes some hot, dry, windy weather and it becomes fuel for bushfires.”

Mr Smith is urging Mid West and Gascoyne residents to familiarise themselves with the Emergency WA website and download the My Bushfire Plan app as soon as possible.

The app helps people develop a personalised bushfire plan.

It assists users in making critical decisions such as when to leave, what to take, and where to go before a fire approaches their home.

Mr Smith said it was encouraging to see many people had downloaded the app since it was launched last year.

“It’s one of their best sources of information,” he said.

DFES Mid West-Gascoyne superintendent Craig Smith at the Geraldton command centre with the mybushfireplan app.
Camera IconDFES Mid West-Gascoyne superintendent Craig Smith at the Geraldton command centre with the mybushfireplan app. Credit: Picture: Elise Van Aken

Mr Smith said bushfires were a shared responsibility, with property owners, farmers and volunteer brigades all playing a part.

“If property owners have taken precautions we can get on top of a fire pretty quickly — that’s why we encourage the fire breaks, so the fire doesn’t spread so rapidly,” he said.

“If we have fire weather days, we encourage people to be situationally aware and tap into information resources such as ABC radio and DFES’ Facebook page to see if anything is happening around their area.”

Bushfires aren’t the only concern heading into the warmer months. Mr Smith said Mid West residents needed to prepare themselves for the event of a cyclone, even if it was unlikely.

“We don’t tend to get cyclones as far south as Geraldton, but we certainly did this year,” he said.

“We just need to make sure people are taking preparation for that just in case.”

With cyclones usually taking a few days to build up off the coast, DFES recommends that people leave the area if their homes are not prepared.

“The main thing people need to know is if their structures will withstand a cyclone — in Geraldton, most of them won’t,” Mr Smith said.

“In that case, if there’s a cyclone expected to make landfall, they need to figure out where they are going to go.”

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