Eagle Bay bushfire: Blaze downgraded to watch and act overnight

Michael Traill and Kate PhillipsThe West Australian
An out-of-control bushfire that threatened lives and homes and burned through more than 200 hectares of land has been downgraded to a watch and act.
Camera IconAn out-of-control bushfire that threatened lives and homes and burned through more than 200 hectares of land has been downgraded to a watch and act. Credit: DFES/Matt Muir/DFES/Matt Muir

An out-of-control bushfire that threatened lives and homes and burned through more than 220 hectares of land has been downgraded to a watch and act.

The fire is now stationary, but is not contained or controlled and DFES says burning embers are likely to be blown around properties.

More than 150 firefighters, including Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services, Bush Fire Service, Parks and Wildlife Service firefighters battled the blaze through the night.

Crews are back on scene Wednesday morning, working to build containment lines and protect assets.

Photos from the Dunsborough bushfire 11/01/22
Camera IconFirefighters on scene. Credit: Station Officer David Mildon/DFE/Station Officer David Mildon/DFE
Photos from the Dunsborough bushfire 11/01/22
Camera IconInside the fire zone. Credit: Station Officer David Mildon/DFE/Station Officer David Mildon/DFE

A large air water tanker brought in to help fight the fire on Tuesday is also expected to return for a second day.

As many as 800 people were expected to be evacuated by authorities from the Bunker Bay and Eagle Bay communities on Tuesday afternoon after they became trapped by road closures in an emergency fire warning zone covering large swathes of the region.

Eagle Bay fire Evacuee convoy. Jenny Whittaker
Camera IconEagle Bay fire Evacuee convoy. Jenny Whittaker Credit: Jenny Whittaker/Supplied

The evacuation from two community safe points — Eagle Bay Community Hall and The Pullman Bunker Bay Resort — began at 4pm.

Whilst the cause of the blaze is still unknown the arson squad will examine the area once it has been made safe by firefighters.

A DFES spokesman said it was standard practice for the arson squad to be involved in determining the cause of fires this large.

DFES incident controller Blake Moore said a south-easterly wind change was posing a further risk to the Eagle Bay townsite.

Mr Moore said the cause of the blaze is still unknown but authorities said had identified an “inaccessible” area they believe it ignited in.

Photo from the conference being held on the bushfire happening in Western Australia's South West
Camera IconThe community meeting held Tuesday. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

The fire was sparked about 8pm Monday in Meelup Regional Park.

At 1.30am on Tuesday Meelup Beach residents were awoken by a text or a bang at the door from firefighters, telling them to get out now before it was too late.

They had just minutes to gather up what they could.

WOOROLOO BUSHFIRES
Camera IconThere have also recently been fires in the Margaret River area. NCA NewsWire/Tony McDonough Credit: Supplied
Photos from the Dunsborough bushfire 11/01/22
Camera IconThe Dunsborough bushfire. Credit: Station Officer David Mildon/DFE/Station Officer David Mildon/DFE

Alan Morgan said he got a phone call at 1.10am from his next door neighbour, who is a volunteer firefighter, telling him to “get out of there”.

“(The phone call) woke me up, and off I went pretty smartly,” Mr Morgan said.

The 72-year-old said he only had time to fill up two washing baskets with clothes before jumping in his car and fleeing.

Mr Morgan has lived on his property for 30 years and said it wasn’t a hard choice to “do the right thing and leave”.

“We looked out the back window and saw smoke everywhere and a huge orange glow, and so we were out straight away,” he said.

A watch and act warning is in place.
Camera IconA watch and act warning is in place. Credit: The West Australian

He said majority of his neighbourhood left to go down to the local community hall — but it was closed so residents were forced to camp out on the grass or in their cars.

Another community meeting w will be held on Wednesday at 2pm at Geographe Leisure Centre, Queen Elizabeth Drive and Recreation Lane, Busselton.

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