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Wanneroo bushfire: Blaze still under control but underground fires could be burning for months

Claire SadlerThe West Australian
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DFES incident controller Clint Kuchel said on Monday the fire remained controlled and contained after there had been no breakouts overnight. 
Camera IconDFES incident controller Clint Kuchel said on Monday the fire remained controlled and contained after there had been no breakouts overnight.  Credit: Wanneroo Central Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade

Parts of the Wanneroo bushfire, which claimed 18 homes, are expected to be burning underground in wetlands for months to come.

Firefighters managed to get the blaze, which burned through 1870 hectares, under control on Sunday but emergency services are still working hard to stop underground fires — known as peat fires.

DFES incident controller Clint Kuchel said on Monday the fire remained controlled and contained after there had been no breakouts overnight.

“We’ve had a little bit of light rain overnight but it’s certainly nothing that’s going to impact or suppress the fires that are going on, particularly around those wetlands and those peat soils in which the fire continues to burn,” he said.

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“There’s larger areas of wetlands, which are going to require significant treatment options to make sure that we prevent escapes.”

Firefighters are working on fencing off the peat fires in and around Da Vinci Park and setting up sprinklers to prevent the spread of the fire underground.

Mr Kuchel said the ferocity of the bushfire during the initial impact on Wednesday night was “quite extraordinary”.

“I spoke to a number of crews and managers that were in and around the fire on Wednesday night during that initial impact and the ferocity and the scenes they’re describing are quite extraordinary,” he said.

Incident Controller Clinton Kuchel.
Camera IconIncident Controller Clinton Kuchel. Credit: Halim Mellick/The West Australian

“Some of you would have seen pictures online, that’s only a fraction of what is experienced in real life.”

Mr Kuchel said WA residents needed to stay vigilant as it was “going to be a long, hot summer”.

There are more favourable weather conditions this week after Perth battled through a hot, dry and windy heatwave that created a perfect storm for the bushfires.

The city can still expect sunny weather, however, temperatures will be sitting at a maximum of 25C with light winds for most of the week.

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