Waroona bushfire: Updates given at Leschenault evacuation centre meeting

A meeting of about 300 people evacuated from the Waroona bushfire at Leschenault Leisure Centre. Photo: Chloerissa Eadie.

A meeting of about 300 people evacuated from the Waroona bushfire at Leschenault Leisure Centre. Photo: Chloerissa Eadie.

RESIDENTS evacuated from Waroona, Harvey, Preston Beach, Yarloop and other surrounding towns were given a bushfire update by authorities at the Leschenault evacuation centre on Thursday night. 

A crowd of about 300 people were told by Department of Fire and Emergency Services spokesman Mark Priest that as of 8pm Thursday night the blaze has burnt 31,000 hectares and has a perimetre of more than 113 kilometres. 

"We haven't seen this fire behaviour in this area for a long, long time," he said. 

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services map showing the area affected by the Waroona bushfire as of 8pm Thursday night.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services map showing the area affected by the Waroona bushfire as of 8pm Thursday night.

Department of Parks and Wildlife regional fire coordinator Peter Gibson said lightning started two fires on Wednesday night. 

"One three hectares and one six hectare fire were initially noticed," he said. 

"One was quickly brought under control but the other got away and is now threatening a large area."

The crowd were told more than 400 firefighters with 70 trucks are battling the blaze with more than 12 aerial water resources aiding the battle on the ground. 

Strong winds are forecast for Thursday night with temperatures expected to reach into the high 30s on Friday. 

Mr Gibson said at this stage firefighters predict the inferno will take "a couple of days" to contain with a cool change expected on Sunday. 

A number of concerned residents said they had heard messages that the Yarloop townsite had been completely destroyed by fire. 

They were told that the current information at hand does not confirm this to be true. 

A rapid assessment team have entered a number of townsites to investigate damage. 

Currently no homes are confirmed as lost with structural damage being recorded to powerlines and a bridge at Samson Brook destroyed. 

Emergency warnings remain tonight for the Shire of Harvey and the Harvey townsite. 

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Superintendent Rick Curtis told those gathered an incident management team of 70 people based in Waroona were controlling the efforts of the fire crews. 

He also said they were actively defending assets in Yarloop. 

"There have been unconfirmed reports of spotting embers up to one kilometre in front of the fire front," he said. 

South West Police Superintendent Peter Hatch said officers currently had 13 active road blocks in place on advice from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. 

"I've spoken to the officer-in-charge of the Collie Police Station and he confirmed traffic is very slow moving through Williams and Collie," Superintendent Hatch said. 

"We also know two of the three petrol stations in Collie have run dry."

Superintendent Hatch also ensured officers were in a number of the evacuated towns to ensure there were no thefts or looting. 

It was confirmed a number of local businesses have provided food and aid to the evacuation headquarters at Leschenault Leisure Centre to sustain those there for the next two to four days. 

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