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Bridgetown bushfire: ‘Contained and controlled’ as fire downgraded to level two

Ben LoughranManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Vision from the DFES air intelligence helicopter of the Bridgetown fire on Saturday afternoon.
Camera IconVision from the DFES air intelligence helicopter of the Bridgetown fire on Saturday afternoon. Credit: DFES/DFES

A massive bushfire which threatened to destroy the lower South West town of Bridgetown on Saturday has been contained and controlled.

The fire has been downgraded by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services from a level three blaze, the highest category, to a level two fire with incident controller Danny Mosconi saying it should be registered as a level one fire in the “nearish future”.

Mr Mosconi said the fire was still roughly 2206ha in size but was under the control of the 150 personnel at the scene.

He said the fire should be under control from this point onwards but it was still very important for people to remain cautious of the situation.

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“(The fire) is contained and controlled so we do not expect that it will escape containment lines; however, we do live in a high bushfire risk area down here so we are certainly not out of the woods,” he said.

“We are now back to a watch and act, and they are pretty tight just there around that fire scare and everywhere else is at an advice level or an all-clear level.”

Mr Mosconi said the major concern for DFES and the volunteer firefighters on the ground was the hazardous material incident at the Timber Treaters worksite in Hester.

He said during the fire the worksite suffered significant damage including the burning of copper chrome arsenic pine which gives off a toxic smoke and ash cloud when alight.

Mr Mosconi said two specialist teams, a damage assessment team and an urban search and rescue taskforce, was being assembled to assess and deal with potential damage caused by the smoke to the Hester townsite and its residents.

“Our concern at the moment though is we do have a hazmat incident up at Timber Treaters in Hester,” he said.

“That is something that we are working with our specialist, so we will have a specialist district officer, a scientist and other specialists to come in and give me some advice on how we need to manage those pine pole piles.”

Mr Mosconi said the smoke had already spread to some of the outlying area which was the reason the entirety of Hester had been evacuated.

“Some of (the toxic smoke) has been blown around that timber treaters area, we are not sure how far out of that area it has gone so we are doing some assessment,” he said.

“That is the reason why I have directed evacuation out of Hester, we do not want anyone in Hester at the moment.”

Mr Mosconi confirmed one house and one “habitable” shed was destroyed in the Hester area during the bush fire.

He said he was “aspirational” the specialist teams could clear the danger in the area by Tuesday afternoon to allow residents to return and see the damage to the Hester townsite.

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