Eagle Bay fires: Meelup Beach residents describe moment of ‘pure shock’ when forced to evacuate homes

Brianna DuganThe West Australian
Residents have spoken of their shock after being told to get out of their homes.
Camera IconResidents have spoken of their shock after being told to get out of their homes. Credit: The West Australian

South West residents forced to flee their homes as an out-of-control bushfire bore down on them have described the distressing moment they had to pack up and leave.

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.

Photo from the conference being held on the bushfire happening in Western Australia's South West
Camera IconResidents at a town meeting to discuss the bushfire crisis. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

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.

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 Meelup Beach resident, Maria Plumb, said she was gripped by “pure panic” when she received the text saying she had to leave her home of 25 years.

Photo from the conference being held on the bushfire happening in Western Australia's South West
Camera IconDiscussing the latest developments. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

“I was a bit shocked actually because I had no idea what was happening, and I was a bit scared because this has never happened,” Ms Plumb said.

Her bushfire plan was to “get out, and get out fast.”

Ms Plumb said the first thing she did was wake her husband up and then packed a bag.

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

“I just panicked, literally panicked. There was nothing else I could do except get out,” she said.

Ms Plumb said she was shaking as she was trying to pack items in preparation to leave her home.

She said it was a hard decision to leave her home behind, but it was the right decision.

The Plumbs are planning to stay the night in Busselton, as they are unable to return to their home.

Dozens of residents have flocked to the Geographe Bay Leisure Centre, which has turned into an evacuation centre for those who had to escape the fire threat.

It is unclear when they can return back to their homes as the Eagle Bay region is still under immediate fire danger.

Firefighters are still battling the out-of-control blaze, which is not yet contained.

A convoy of firefighters are planning to do a rescue evacuation of residents trapped in Eagle and Bunker Bay at 4pm.

Incident Control Officer Blake Moore said it was the only evacuation convoy they were offering those residents, and it’s their choice to get out or stay.

The blaze, which sparked at 8pm Monday night, has burnt through more than 200 hectares of land.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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