Deadly bushfire destroys church campground
Updated 2.38 pm, Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Waroona, Western Australia
A bushfire in Western Australia’s South West has killed two people and destroyed more than 140 buildings, including several structures at a Seventh-day Adventist Church campground.
All but one cabin at the Western Australian Conference’s Camp Logue Brook (CLB) were lost in the fire. The property is also losing water after a pipe melted in the blaze.
Conference general secretary Pastor Sid Griffith flew an aircraft over the campsite on Friday afternoon and confirmed the severity of the damage.
The home of camp managers Ken and Lesley Topperwien remained undamaged in the fire, as well as CLB’s maintenance shed.
“A sad day for sure, but they are buildings,” wrote Western Australian Conference president Pastor Terry Johnson on Facebook. “All the memories [will] remain. The buildings can be rebuilt.”
One of the CLB buildings lost in the fire. [Photo courtesy: Steve Crawford]
Cabin number 7 was the only cabin to survive the blaze. [Photo courtesy: Steve Crawford]
Pastor Johnson expressed his condolences to the families of two men, aged 73 and 77, killed in the blaze which ripped through the town of Yarloop on Thursday night.
The historic town, with a population of 600 people, has been described as a “war zone,” with 128 homes destroyed in the fire.
Adventists were among those affected, with Pamela Barron, Bernie and Maureen Riegert, David and Teresa Riegert, Ray Riegert and sisters Queenie and Lycka Pasiola losing their homes in the blaze.
“Keep them in your thoughts and prayer time,” said Pastor Johnson on Facebook. “While there has been lots of losses there have also been wonderful stories of generosity of people donating vehicles, caravans, homes and the like.”
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has set up an emergency response team at the Leschenault Leisure Centre in Australind, and is working with other aid organisations to help find accommodation for those displaced by the fires.
An aerial view of the decimated Camp Logue Brook. [Photo courtesy: Mark Pizey]
The Waroona bushfire, which was sparked last Wednesday morning by lightning, has burned more than 73,500 hectares.
Thousands of people in the South Perth region are still without power, while several major roads remain closed.
Sky News reported on Monday morning that an emergency warning for east of Waroona, Hamel, Yarloop and surrounding areas has been downgraded to a watch and act alert.
However, Liberal MP Murray Cowper told ABC News the danger is far from over.
“We’re going to have to deal with jump-outs of fires for months ahead,” said Mr Cowper.