Baldivis faces fire threat

ARRAN MORTONSound Telegraph

Dozens of Baldivis residents fled their homes on Sunday as a bushfire threatened properties and lives.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services issued a watch and act alert, warning of the possible threat to lives and homes at 3pm after the fire broke out at bushland between Safety Bay Road and Nairn Drive shortly after 12.30pm.

Many residents chose to leave the fire zone after a sudden change in weather conditions intensified the battle.

Arrino Parade resident Kristy Woodworth, whose house backs on to bushland destroyed by the fire, said smoke, ash and embers quickly became unbearable.

Mrs Woodworth said she opted to flee with her three-year-old son, Toby, and pet animals at 1.15pm.

She said she had been enjoying a dip in the pool when she suddenly smelled smoke which was promptly followed by a dark haze and a tunnel of ash. “I quickly closed all the windows and took my son, two dogs and a cat inside — firefighters appeared within a few minutes and asked all the neighbours to wet their gutters and prepare to defend our homes,” she said.

“It was really scary, everyone is really close on our street and most of the neighbours decided to leave, or send their kids away to relatives, just to be safe.”

Mrs Woodworth said spot fires caused by burning embers began to appear at a vacant block on the street, sparking fears homes could be destroyed.

Neighbour Tennille Crispin, who readied a car-load of personal belongings and sent her two children to their grandmother’s house, said residents were forced to cover their faces with towels to avoid breathing in smoke.

Mrs Crispin said surfaces throughout her home, as well as the family’s backyard pool, were inundated with black ash and the smell of smoke still lingered on Monday morning. “My six-year-old son asked if a volcano had erupted, before flames lit up in a big circle close to some of the neighbours’ houses,” she said.

“I started to panic — it was really scary.”

Career and volunteer firefighters from Baldivis, Rockingham, Singleton and Hope Valley brought the fire under control on Sunday night.

A DFES spokesman said the cause of the fire was unknown and enquiries were continuing.

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