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Media Release

People praised for resilience during recent bushfires
Friday 8 March 2013 – 10:00 AM
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has today thanked people for their cooperation, resilience and patience during recent bushfire incidents.
 
Two major bushfires broke out last week, putting life and property under threat in the City of Swan. Today another fire started in the same area, prompting a call for people to maintain their vigilance.
DFES Superintendent North Coastal Craig Waters said the recent bushfires posed a significant threat to the community and thanked local people for their cooperation in such difficult times.
 
“In last week’s incidents, firefighters were confronted with fast moving, out of control fires that had the potential to destroy homes and ruin lives,” Mr Waters said.
 
“There were times when we had to ask people to leave for a safer place and there were times when it became too dangerous for anyone to leave – they had to stay and shelter in their homes.
 
“Thankfully, firefighters were able to gain control of these fires and keep them at bay but there were moments when fire behaviour was ferocious and conditions were extremely dangerous.”
 
“Today’s fire is a reminder that the bushfire season is not over and we need to continue to stay alert and be aware that fires can start at any time.”
 
The first fire started near The Vines on Wednesday 27 February, burning through 150 hectares and threatening homes in the nearby communities of Bullsbrook, Ellenbrook, Upper Swan, The Vines, Aveley and Belhus.
 
On Thursday 28 February another fire started in Middle Swan. This fire burnt through 1,460 hectares near Shady Hills and the Walyunga National Park and came dangerously close to homes in Bullsbrook.
 
Today’s fire started between Great Northern Highway and Stock Road, closing Great Northern Highway in Bullsbrook. It continues to burn in the area.
 
Mr Waters said he recognised how difficult road closures and other restrictions were on people who live in or were travelling through the City of Swan at the time. He said there were also a number of cases where people went the extra mile to help each other.
 
A number of people last week offered residents unable to return home a bed for the night, while others donated food, water and their time to ensuring everyone was well cared for.
 
“We know there were people who were desperate to return to their homes and we would like to thank those people for their patience and understanding,” Mr Waters said.
 
“Despite the challenges, during and after the fires the cooperation and resilience of the communities was fantastic to see.
 
“People staying away from smoke and ember attack – and off the roads – allows firefighters to fully concentrate on putting the fire out and making the area safe to return to as quickly as possible.”
 
Mr Waters said he wanted to thank the more than 270 career and volunteer firefighters, including those that came from across the State, who helped fight both fires and protect local communities.
 
Career and volunteer firefighters left their families and homes from as far away as Geraldton and
Northcliffe to spend hours on the fire ground protecting the City of Swan community.
 
State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers also assisted in the fire suppression effort by providing logistical and welfare support.
 
Mr Waters said firefighters and other emergency responders were grateful to the community for their support.
 
“Bushfires are a shared responsibility and firefighters rely on the community to prepare for the season, take action when a bushfire occurs and listen to emergency services,” he said.
 
For more information about bushfire safety please visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au
 
Media Contact: Media and Public Affairs on 9225 5955.
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