Fires cause severe crop damage

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
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The Yellanup Road fire burnt bluegum trees and destroyed a shed.
Camera IconThe Yellanup Road fire burnt bluegum trees and destroyed a shed. Credit: Shannon Smith

A bushfire in Porongurup this month is estimated to have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage when it burnt through a mature Australian Bluegum Plantations crop.

The fire came within metres of two homes as it burnt through 550ha and destroyed a shed on June 6. Acting Forest Industries Federation WA chief executive Matt Granger said the fire had a severe impact on commercial forestry operations.

“In one case, 85ha of 12-year-old bluegums belonging to Australian Bluegum Plantations were burnt along Yellanup Road in the Shire of Plantagenet,” he said.

“This crop, which was at maturity, has an estimated value of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It will impact the returns from the plantation, reducing them significantly, and add additional harvest and clean-up costs.

“Plantation assets managed by another local company, PF Olsen, were threatened by fire but saved from loss by industry and local brigade suppression efforts.”

There are about 80,000ha of bluegum plantations in the Albany zone. The trees are harvested at 10-12 years.

With all plantation workers equipped with tools to fight fires, Mr Granger said they were able to help local brigades fight the blaze.

“The plantation companies have their own heavy duty fire trucks attending fires in the Albany catchment to protect farms and plantation assets,” he said.

The day of the Porongurup bushfire was one of the busiest days for WA firefighters in recorded history.

Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan revealed in Parliament last week 276 incidents were reported across the State on June 6 — just short of the 279 incidents on the Department of Fire and Emergency Service’s busiest day in December, 2002.

“A week into winter and the State was battling raging fires while also preparing for severe storms,” Mr Logan said.

“All of WA’s emergency services worked tirelessly together on the ground and in the air, and did an incredible job protecting people’s lives and saving property.”

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