Premier Mark McGowan said if a firebug was behind six suspicious blazes in the South West overnight it would be a “disgusting, disgraceful act” and they will “get caught”.
An emergency warning was last night issued for the Yallingup area, with lives and homes threatened – Mr McGowan saying firefighters battled two fires at Mount Duckworth Reserve and four further blazes in Injidup. The arson squad is now investigating.
“The Duckworth Reserve fire travelled within 3km of the townsite,” Mr McGowan said. “DFES requested police evacuate residents in the Yallingup Beach hills. “Last night’s heavy rain allowed DFES to gain control of the fires quickly .. arson squad detectives are heading out to investigate the cause of the fires.
“Can I say to anyone thinking of deliberately lighting a fire – you will get caught and the penalties are severe, including serious jail time.”
Mr McGowan said while the circumstances of the South West fires were suspicious, Police Commissioner Chris Dawson had yet to receive any evidence of criminality.
“But if someone has deliberately lit a fire after the week we’ve been through, they are just an appalling human being and they will have the book thrown at them,” he said.
“After the fires at Wooroloo, after the week of COVID, after the flooding up north, to go and light a fire in Yallingup, if that’s what happened, it’s a disgusting, disgraceful act.
“It is suspicious because of the way the fire was lit.”
The Yallingup fires come as the Wooroloo bushfire – which destroyed 86 homes – was contained yesterday.
“As we know, the impact has been devastating, and the priority now is to clean up the area and continue the transition to recovery,” Mr McGowan said.
And WA’s Gascoyne region has experiences widespread flooding from rain associated with a tropical low.
“The expectation is that the low will continue to move southwards today while remaining offshore from the west coast,” Mr McGowan said, adding there were a number of major road closures in place.
“Significant road damage north of Carnarvon is expected to see road closures remain for a number of weeks.”
Mr McGowan said he would seek to have the flood declared a disaster under the National disaster relief arrangements so the State Government could receive Federal Government funding, particularly to fix damaged roads.
“This has been an extraordinary week, our emergency services workers have been pushed to their limit. I cannot thank them enough for everything they’ve done and will continue to do and every Western Australian is grateful for their efforts,” he said.
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Investigators are appealing for anyone with information regarding the fire to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or to make a report online at crimestopperswa.com.au