High temperatures prompt alert

Nicolette Barbas and Zoe KeenanHarvey-Waroona Reporter

A dry winter and record-high November temperatures mean the South West could be facing a devastating bushfire season.

As fires ravage the Eastern States, red flags are appearing for the South West region with conditions already ripe for fires, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Deputy chief bushfire control officer in the south Michael Papalia is urging residents to prepare for fires now.

“We are at least four to six weeks ahead of where we would expect the soil dryness index to be at this time of year,” he said.

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“The fire conditions are similar to those we experience in mid December, and people need to be aware it is a lot drier out there than it actually looks.

“There is absolutely no sign of rain coming on, we are well and truly in what we would class as bushfire season.”

Combining record highs earlier in the month with a drier than average winter in the South West, bushfires are already hitting the region.

A bushfire alert also went up last Wednesday near Johnston Road and Teesdale Street in Yarloop.

“There was a powerline that came down into a paddock but luckily the grass was fairly low and we were able to get units there quickly so the fire didn’t spread over a large area,” Mr Papalia said.

“It could have been much worse if someone hadn’t seen and reported it.”

“If people are wanting to do any mitigation, we really encourage them to ring up and talk to a fire control officer before applying for a permit so we can make them aware of how dangerous it is going to be.”

With the slight temperature drop this week, Mr Papalia said Harvey residents should still be cautious when working outside.

“Fire danger won’t be reduced because of the cooler weather,” he said.

“The heat is still very dry and will continue to be for the next four to five months, so please be really careful when working outside especially with electrical equipment.”

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