Museum exhibits lost

Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times

Vintage wedding dresses, television sets and photographs were among the irreplaceable historic items destroyed when the Busselton Museum caught fire just weeks after celebrating the building’s 100th anniversary.

Busselton Historical Society president Sandra Johnson said she was devastated by the loss of the top floor’s main room, which reportedly started smoking about 4pm on Tuesday.

By 4.15pm the second storey was visibly alight and emergency services spent almost two hours extinguishing the blaze.

Ms Johnson was shown photos of the inside of the building by firefighters and said she “did not see anything salvageable” from the main room.

“There were all kinds of things up there — wedding dresses, television sets ... and they’re all gone,” she said.

“Other rooms upstairs were severely smoke and water-damaged, so we’ll have to clean them out and see what can be saved.”

Busselton City Mayor Grant Henley said the loss was “impossible to quantify, as these items of historical and cultural importance simply can’t be replaced”.

The ground floor did not sustain significant damage, as feared by BHS members watching the blaze, and Ms Johnson said firefighters were to thank for their immediate response.

Ms Johnson was the last person to leave the building on Tuesday at 12.30pm, stressing rumours involving a heater were “totally incorrect” and the cause of the fire was still being investigated by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. The WA Museum and Heritage Minister David Templeman have contacted Ms Johnson to offer their support.

The BHS will meet on Tuesday at 10am at the Showgrounds building at Churchill Park to discuss the immediate future of the museum, which is housed in the Old Butter Factory.

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