2015-02-10 The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is assisting residents and fire fighting efforts in Western Australia.
The Australian Army’s 13th Brigade has established temporary accommodation for fire fighters and potential evacuees from areas threatened by the fires currently burning in the state’s south west.
A convoy of 10 trucks carrying around 40 soldiers and camp stores travelled to Manjimup today where 13th Brigade established a temporary camp with tents, camp stretchers, tables, chairs and lighting to support up to 200 people. The 13th Brigade has sufficient camp stores and is ready to establish an additional 200-bed camp at a second location if required.
While the Army was establishing accommodation with some help from their Navy colleagues, a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17A Globemaster delivered around 40 tons of chemical fire retardant from RAAF Base Richmond near Sydney to RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia where the Air Force is providing parking, fuel and water support to civilian fire fighting aircraft.
The ADF support in Western Australia is provided through the Defence Assistance to the Civil Community program, which allows States or Territories to make a request through the Commonwealth for ADF assistance in response to natural disasters or emergencies.
Credit: Australian Defense Force
Western Australia fire quadruples to 80,000 hectares as Abbott offers aid
The prime minister, Tony Abbott, has promised federal assistance to help communities in Western Australia’s south-west battling the biggest fire in the state’s recent history.
The 80,000-hectare fire has quadrupled in size since Tuesday and stretches from the coast to the South Western Highway in a band south of the town of Northcliffe.
Firefighters were taking advantage of cooler conditions on Thursday morning to strengthen containment lines around the fire to protect Northcliffe, 350km south of Perth, ahead of a predicted south-westerly wind change on Thursday afternoon. Northcliffe has been on emergency alert for several days after the fire, which has a perimeter of 220km, cut off two of its four access roads.
Manjimup shire president Wade de Campo said he received a call from the prime minister on Wednesday night offering his thoughts for those fighting the fire. De Campo said he was “humbled” to get the call, particularly given leadership speculation in Canberra this week.
“He does have quite a lot on his plate,” de Campo said. “He offered his support to people in the community and offered federal assistance.”
WA is facing one of its worst ever bushfire seasons, with about 3,000 fires reported since 1 January. WA police announced on Thursday that 539 of those were lit deliberately. So far 34 people, including 30 boys under the age of 17, have been charged with arson.
The first offering of federal assistance took the form of a 300-tent emergency camp, which will be built by the army on Thursday.
The tents are being set up on both the Manjimup football oval and the hockey ground, and will be used to house volunteer firefighters.
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