Perth Hills residents whose homes were destroyed by a bushfire over the weekend will be allowed supervised visits to their properties today to assess the damage.
Fifty-two buildings were razed by the blaze, which started in Parkerville before spreading to Stoneville on Sunday and burning through almost 400 hectares.
Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) says its investigators now believe the fire was started by a power pole on private land.
Hundreds of residents who were evacuated have up until now been unable to return home as authorities deemed the risk too hot and dangerous.
Evacuee Paula Sajtinac lost her home and everything she owned in the 2008 Stoneville Parkerville bushfire and soon she will find out if the house she rebuilt has been destroyed again.
“I’m heartbroken, I just remember the feelings of being displaced, the hopelessness,” she told ABC’s AM.
“All my friends and family are saying ‘Oh no, not again’.
“What do I do? It’s horrible. I want to know myself and I won’t rest until I’ve seen it because I’ve lost one before.
Ms Sajtinac says she has been told her home is still standing.
Stoneville resident Fleur Adams says her house was “right in the hot spot”, so it has been an anxious wait to find out what is left.
“I don’t know if I want to know what’s happened,” she said.
“We’re landscaping the house at the moment. We’re renovating as well. It’s just like, what’s going to be there? What will be left?
“We’re building and creating a new house for ourselves, one that’s us. It’s just been started, we’re pouring us into it.”
Up until now Ms Sajtinac and her partner Jeff Bromilow have been getting information from a neighbour who stayed to fight the fire.
“He’s lost his verandah. He says the weirdest thing is walking outside and seeing your clothes line as a lump of plastic,” she said.
“He says he can see our place, it looks reasonable but he’s not venturing further forward.”
DFES Superintendent Gary Baxter has told ABC News Breakfast that authorities will use the “utmost compassion” when taking residents to view their properties.
“We understand that they want to get in there as quickly as they can but safety is paramount,” he said.
“We will do whatever we can throughout the next couple of days to make sure that everything is in order before and after they have a look at their properties that counselling and the like is in place.”
Superintendent Baxter says all indicators now point to the cause of the fire being from a privately owned power pole in the region.
He says the extreme weather conditions meant once the fire started, it was hard to control.
But the State Government says the situation could have been worse and up to 450 houses could have been lost if it was not for the fast response from emergency services.
Meanwhile, with the temperature forecast to reach 29 degrees today, firefighters are optimistic they can contain the fire.
The Federal Government has activated disaster recovery payments for affected residents for up to $1,000 per adult and $400 per child.
Attorney-General George Brandis says the money is available now.
Affected residents can contact the Government’s hotline on 180 22 66.
Source: ABC News