Town re-opens, rebuilds after disaster

Hannelore HepburnHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Only the facade of the historic Yarloop Town Hall remains standing.
Camera IconOnly the facade of the historic Yarloop Town Hall remains standing. Credit: Tyler Ross-Clarke

No-one could have imagined an out-of-control bushfire could all but erase the historic town of Yarloop within hours.

Yet on January 7, 2016, one of the State’s worst bushfires over the past 50 years swept through the town, sadly killing two residents, destroying more than 180 properties and burning thousands of square kilometres of land and farming properties throughout the Waroona and Harvey shires.

It was one of the most horrific fires in WA and defined the year for residents, State and local governments and all services and organisations involved.

The fire front came dangerously close to Third Street, Harvey.
Camera IconThe fire front came dangerously close to Third Street, Harvey.

It took some time to assess the damage and the complete picture of what was lost slowly emerged throughout the following weeks.

The Waroona-Yarloop bushfire touched the hearts of people throughout Australia and help and support started pouring in from individuals donating goods to service clubs and community groups.

The Cookernup Community Hall became one of the collection points for donations and later started a weekly morning tea to give fire-affected residents a venue to support each other.

Some residents lost everything in the fire while others still had a house standing but everyone agreed that many more properties would have burnt to the ground if it had not been for the heroic actions, dogged perseverance and local knowledge of the volunteer bushfire brigades.

Some of them saw their own cars and houses go up in flames but did not stop in their efforts to save others.

Harvey shire president Tania Jackson said there was no doubt the effects of the bushfire are still being felt throughout the community today.

“Many people were displaced as they waited for State Government contractors to clear their properties, including hazardous material such as asbestos,” she said.

“Farmers are still replacing some of the 3000km of damaged boundary fencing and rehabilitating pasture lands.

“Although the town site of Yarloop was reopened back in August, emotions are still raw as residents work to rebuild their community and return life to some form of normality.”

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