Yarloop residents say authorities ignored fears about lack of water

Yarloop residents are angry authorities ignored their fears about a lack of water pressure in the town last year after a resident told media there was no water for firefighters to use to try and fight the blaze which destroyed the town on Friday.

Yarloop Bowling Club president Ron Sackville said he wrote to Water Minister Mia Davies last year concerned a number of fire hydrants weren't working in the town, 120 kilometres south of Perth.

He said a couple of them were fixed, but when firefighters tried to get water from the hydrants to fight the fire, a number of them were on the fritz.

"Something has failed, because some of them didn't work," he said.

"And there was no water in the town by five o'clock. It had completely disappeared. I'm really, really angry."

Three residents are still unaccounted for in the South West town and 95 homes and a number of historic buildings including the Yarloop Workshops have been destroyed in the massive blaze that was still raging on Friday morning.

Mr Sackville said he could only count nine buildings still standing in Yarloop.

"It's just terrible," he said.

"I couldn't get all the way down there but understand the steam museum is gone ... the post office survived, the pub is gone, the bowling club survived.

"Fortunately I have a firefighting pump and house and managed to save our house and the horses that were in the paddock - they are in the backyard now.

"But I look around 360 degrees and everything is burnt to a cinder. I think the post office is the only building left standing [in the main street]. The fire was horrendous."

The volunteer firefighter told Radio 6PR on Friday morning the Water Minister should resign over the "water situation in Yarloop".

"There was no water here to fight the fire, the trucks couldn't fill up," he said. "It's just the devastation of a whole town. 

"The fire was horrendous. There has been a real lack of land maintenance around Yarloop by some of the private owners - once the fire got into that at the northern end of town, there was no stopping it."

Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Wayne Gregson told gathered media on Friday said he had heard Yarloop residents were angry there was a serious lack of water in the town to battle the blaze.

"We will look at that," he said.

"The resupply of trucks from both the fuel and water perspective is usually done independently of town water supply but I did hear his comments in respect to town water supply.

"As I said at the beginning do not rely on scheme water...do not rely on power as been guaranteed. They are likely to fail when you have such a situation. It generally does not impact upon fire response operations because our logistics mean we are independently supplied.

"But I did hear those concerns."

Acting Water Minister Colin Holt has been contacted for comment.


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