On 6 January 2016 the communities of Yarloop and surrounding areas in the Shires of Harvey and Waroona were impacted by a devastating fire. Tragically two people lost their lives. In addition, a Western Power employee lost his life while working to restore power. The fire affected an area of 69,000 ha with a perimeter of 398km. 181 residential properties and businesses as well as a large number of farm buildings and sheds were destroyed.
Given the significant impact of the fire, the then Premier directed the Public Sector Commissioner to hold a special inquiry pursuant to section 24H(2) and (3) of the Public Sector Management Act 1994 to examine the organisation and management of the bushfire. The report of the special inquiry titled Reframing Rural Fire Management: Report of the Special Inquiry into the January 2016 Waroona Fire, was tabled in Parliament on Thursday 23 June 2016. Information about the conduct of the special inquiry, including the report and submissions, can be found on the Public Sector Commission's website:
Dr Ken Michael was appointed as State Recovery Controller. Dr Michael established the State Recovery Coordination Group to coordinate and facilitate speedy and equitable treatment of the needs arising from the fire. The Government's intent was to ensure the clean-up of damaged homes across the fire affected area was undertaken as quickly as possible, at the same time ensuring the safety of remaining community members and workers.
The Commonwealth and State Governments have met the costs associated with the clean-up required to make homes safe and habitable.
Dr Michael completed his role as State Recovery Controller following the issuance of a final report on the outcomes of the clean-up and the community consultation. The Final Report can be found here - State Recovery Controller - Final Report
In undertaking the clean-up, the State Government ensured that it:
- was done safely;
- was done as quickly as possible;
was where possible scheduled so that destroyed houses adjacent to those still standing were cleared first so that people could return to their homes as quickly as possible;
maximised benefits to property owners by preserving their insurance payout; and
- maximised the value of the land by providing certification that the property was free of contaminants following clean-up.
The clean-up following the Waroona Complex Fire was the most complex undertaken by the State in terms of:
the number of dwellings destroyed - 181 residential properties and businesses as well as a large number of farm buildings and sheds;
the fire impacted 69,000ha with a perimeter of 398km;
the nature of the hazards - including asbestos, treated timber, chemicals, unstable structures and loose debris; and
the need to protect people still residing in the area, as well as those workers restoring services and stabilising the area.
The town of Yarloop was officially reopened on 12 August 2016.
The State Government's contribution to the clean-up of residences, public open spaces and damaged vegetation is complete.
The State Government supported the development of a Bushfire Attack Level Contour Map and the Shire of Harvey has been provided with a copy for its future use.
The State Government continues to manage the remediation works at the railway workshops.
Shire of Harvey: www.harvey.wa.gov.au
Shire of Waroona: www.waroona.wa.gov.au
The Department for Child Protection and Family Support's Emergency Services Officer: 0417 457 583
Water Corporation www.watercorporation.com.au/bushfireassistance
Western Power www.westernpower.com.au/corporate-information-community-information-waroona-bushfire.html
Lifeline WA (24hrs) 13 11 14, www.lifeline.org.au
Kids Helpline (24hrs) 1800 55 1800, www.kidshelp.com.au
RuralLink (Rural Communities) 1800 552 002
Beyondblue 1300 22 4636, www.beyondblue.org.au
Australian Red Cross, 1800 810 710