No homes or lives lost in Wonthella bushfire emergency

Lisa Favazzo & Liam BeattyGeraldton Guardian
Burnt bushland behind the Veteran's Car Club house in Wonthella.
Camera IconBurnt bushland behind the Veteran's Car Club house in Wonthella. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

Wonthella locals have recounted the frantic and scary minutes they had to escape a blaze raging dangerously close to their homes on Tuesday, while praising the heroic actions of firefighters for saving life and property.

In the wake of the potentially deadly bushfire in Wonthella on Tuesday night, authorities say no homes or lives were lost in the emergency.

However, Department of Fire and Emergency Services Mid West Gascoyne region Superintendent Craig Smith said some sheds owned by local clubs were damaged.

Several residents also said embers from the incident caused a smaller fire on a nearby empty lot.

Wonthella residents say embers from the bushfire set a vacant block alight.
Camera IconWonthella residents say embers from the bushfire set a vacant block alight. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

Wonthella resident Ella Conder praised authorities for their prompt work and co-operation in the wake of a bushfire which endangered lives and homes on Tuesday night.

“The Fire Department’s response was out of this world... They are all heroes,” she said.

Ms Conder said she was evacuated from her home by police just six minutes after first noticing the smell of smoke from her Flores Road home.

She found burnt grass at the front of her property when she returned home later that night. It stopped within metres of her front door and centimetres from her garden’s boundary wall.

According to Ms Conder, the ordeal was “f...... hectic”.

Tuesday night's fire got very close to Ella Conder's Wonthella home.
Camera IconTuesday night's fire got very close to Ella Conder's Wonthella home. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

Further down Flores Road, Allan Comeagain was also evacuated from his home by police.

He said the smoke was so strong it impaired his breathing.

“I had to go. It was scary,” he said.

Mr Comeagain said police visited his home after the fire was out to ask if he had seen anything suspicious, but he told them all he had seen was clouds of black smoke.

Allan Comeagain was evacuated from his Wonthella home.
Camera IconAllan Comeagain was evacuated from his Wonthella home. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

Several residents in the area said the fire had come as a shock to their system, reminding them bushfires moved quickly and could happen to anyone.

Supt Smith seconded that message saying the fire “serves to remind us how quickly fire can escalate, it’s can be life and death for people in these areas”.

He stressed everyone living in a bushfire risk area should have a fire plan in place. The Wonthella blaze was downgraded to a watch and act around 7pm, and is currently at an advice level.

Tuesday night's fire burning in Wonthella.
Camera IconTuesday night's fire burning in Wonthella. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

Although Geraldton has seen several fires lately, Supt Smith said there was no reason to suspect any “untoward” behaviour.

“We’ve got a great city here, but the reality is over the summer months the fire risk is severe. We’ll get through it like we have in past years,” he said.

The Wonthella blaze was the second bushfire emergency in Geraldton this week, after homes and lives were threatened by a bushfire in Karloo on Monday night. In that instance, no lives or homes were lost either.

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