Area ‘a war zone’ after arsonist rampage south of Perth


Nicolas Perpitch

RESIDENTS of Lake Clifton, south of Perth, are stunned and angry that a bushfire that destroyed at least nine homes was deliberately lit.

Countless horses, cattle and other stock were killed in the fire.

About 140 firefighters were last night strengthening containment lines around the community, 100km south of Perth, but the blaze was still “extremely raw” amid concerns burning trees and embers would threaten more properties when the evening sea breeze strengthened.

Sue and Peter Hewitt were allowed a brief visit to the remains of their home on Thompson Crescent. “We’re hoping we can salvage something,” Ms Hewitt said.

They were insured and said $5000 had already been put in their account.

Carpenter Joe Ferraro and his partner, Christine Donaldson, who also live on Thompson Crescent, were left with nothing but their pet dog, Lukey, after losing their home, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and a boat.

Mr Ferraro and Ms Donaldson were consoled by friends at the Waroona Recreation Centre.

Neighbour Greg Brown had to flee as the flames approached and was waiting to find out the fate of his home. “It sucks,” he said. “Just some little prick lighting the fire for fun.”

The fire started just before midday on Monday and has burned about 2000ha.

The Fire and Emergency Services Authority said there were seven ignition points and a small green car had been seen stopping along the nearby Forrest Highway after which smoke was quickly seen rising from the area.

Police Minister Rob Johnson announced extra officers had been drafted to the Arson Squad to hunt down those responsible.

Christopher Long, a resident of Lake Clifton for 23 years, said it was the worst fire since 1982.

He was still shaking after his 4WD caught on fire as he drove through the flames to a friend’s home. “A big pole with a transformer on it came down right in front of me,” he said.

Mandy Mack, who lives nearby, said her home was saved but the area was devastated. “It looked like a war zone, like someone had dropped a bomb on (it).”