Waroona bushfire: Harvey residents flee advancing fire front

A firefighting helicopter fueling up an oval in Harvey on Thursday night. Photo: Monique Warnock.
A firefighting helicopter fueling up an oval in Harvey on Thursday night. Photo: Monique Warnock.

AS the Waroona bushfire burns into its third day, there are concerns that the townsite of Harvey could be next in the firing line.

A bushfire emergency remains in place for the town of 25,000 with a number of residents choosing to evacuate south along South Western Highway to the Leschenault evacuation centre.

It is understood Harvey has not yet been declared a compulsory evacuation zone but residents have been strongly advised by text message to consider leaving.

The town is just 11 minutes by car from Yarloop where 95 homes have been lost to the blaze.

A number of Harvey residents acted early when their town was first placed on the emergency warning list on Thursday afternoon.

Shirley and Bob Huey fled with their pets, some medication and an iPad.

Sam Curilli, 62, said he lived through major flooding in the region in 1964 and had not been involved in a major disaster like this since.

“The main thing is that we hope the house is still there when we get back,” he said.

Harvey resident Micheal Macrae evacuated with 12 other people and also said he hoped his home was still standing when she returned. .

"There were three car loads of us and at first (when we heard the news) it was a bit surreal but then we started to see the smoke and didn't know what to think," she said.

Harvey is home to a number of important agricultural industries including Harvey Fresh and Harvey Beef which is owned by Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Group.

With communication interruptions in the area, staff from Harvey Beef were informed by Facebook that Friday shifts had been cancelled.  

Harvey resident's Jill and Gene Hilbers arrived at the evacuation centre late Thursday afternoon and had brought their dinner, a filing cabinet and medication with them. 

Ms Hilbers has two properties in Harvey and said they had insurance so they had just taken the most important documents with them.

Mr Hilbers said he had lived in the area his whole life and knew what the wind was like and with the land being so dry he could have predicted what would happen. 

"They are concerned because the fire being in the Waroona area on the Darling Scarp the embers are dropping everywhere. 

“[At one stage] we were in Brunswick for half an hour and there were embers dropping on the ground," Mr Hilbers said.

"Hopefully nothing happens to our property but the wind is the problem." 


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