Waroona bushfires: The despair is real at the Australind evacuation centre

THE feelings of despair were evident from the residents of Yarloop and surrounding towns who have been evacuated to the Leschenault Leisure Centre as major bushfires continue to burn. 

The emergency meeting was held at the Leschenault Evacuation Centre at 1pm today.

There were more than 800 people at the meeting, including those who had lost their homes in Yarloop.  

Resident Marc Demamrel said they would have to start all over again and they had no idea what they would be returning to.

"The one thing I regret not taking is our photo albums with photos of when we were babies, mum is just devastated," Mr Demamrel said.  

Acting Premier Kim Hames said emotions ran high and it was a catastrophic loss.

He said people didn’t know what had happened to their homes, farms, animals and livestock.

“It is a very trying time and you can’t let people in because the risks are just too great,” Minister Hames said.

“We haven’t controlled the fire yet – we still don’t know exactly where it’s going to go or how it’s going to develop further.

“Of course when people don’t know they become very stressed.”

Department of Fire and Emergency Services spokesman Mark Feast said the fire was eight kilometres from Harvey and was moving at one kilometre an hour.

The blaze had so far burnt 58,000 hectares and is moving in a south westerly direction, he said.

Emergency services minister Joe Francis said over a 48 period there were more than 100 fires started and it was not possible to get on top of every single one of them straight away.

“I reject that we let people’s houses burn without doing our absolute very best, of course we did everything possible but at the end of the day we have the tyranny of distance,” Minister Francis said.

“Our biggest aerial fire fighting fleet in the state history has its limitations – it can’t fly at night it’s too dangerous, to have helicopters dropping water onto areas they can’t see and flying in close proximity to each other in darkness.”

For people who lost their homes in the fire there will be $3000 provided by the state government and Minister Hames said there would be ongoing food and shelter provided by the Department for Child Protection and Family Support.

Harvey Shire president Tania Jackson said at last night’s meeting people were quit subdued.

“Today we saw the reality of devastation from some of those people and the feeling that we don’t know what’s happened, who’s been effected and whether their homes are still in the line of fire,” Ms Jackson said.

“We still have an active fire front here so we can’t take away the fact that that worry is ongoing.

“I feel as many resources that have been available have been put to this fire.”

She said communications was also difficult but knew they had fire crews from across the South West actively defending the fire.

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