WA fires: 'tired, hot' Yarloop resident Rod Kennedy vows to rebuild

Rod Kennedy moved from Perth to Yarloop six months ago, hoping to enjoy a peaceful retirement.

By Friday morning his tree-change, bush dream lay in tatters - decimated by the firestorm that swept through Yarloop, destroying 121 homes.

But Mr Kennedy has vowed to rebuild in the tiny mill town, which had a population of a little more than 500 people but is likely to become even smaller as a result of this week's fire devastation.

"The house is totalled completely gone. The shed is destroyed, I've lost my caravan and a boat," Mr Kennedy told Radio 6PR from an evacuation centre in Pinjarra.

"I've got half a dozen pairs of shorts and some undies and my insurance papers.

"We might be able to return [to Yarloop] in three days, get back and get the insurance assessor to have a look.

"Maybe in six months I might have another house...maybe."

Yarloop found itself directly in the path of the terrifying bushfires that started on Wednesday morning with a lightning strike near Waroona - 112 kilometres south of Perth - and have so far churned through more than 67,000 hectares of land.

By Saturday morning the fire's perimeter covered more than 220 kilometres and residents of Harvey, population 25,000, had spent an anxious Friday night with the firefront lurking just a few kilometres out of town.

Mr Kennedy spoke of the surreal feeling of seeing his own home burn down and the tramatic cost for Yarloop, which was home to a world-renowned steam-age museum and workshops, which were lost in the fire.

"It was very traumatic, very tired, very hot, very dirty," Mr Kennedy said.

"I say we can rebuild but it will take a long time. The heritage is finished, there is no such thing as heritage any more - there are very few houses left and there might only be a couple of heritage ones out of that.

"It depends how many people want to stay and rebuild. A lot of people were uninsured. I think the town will be a lot smaller than it was.

"At least now I've got a block of land."

Mr Kennedy was one of many Yarloop residents who declined initial offers by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to be evacuated by helicopter or bus.

The reason, he said, was that it would have entailed leaving cars behind - and with houses already razed, "without cars, we'd have nothing"

Like Yarloop Bowling Club president Ron Sackville, Mr Kennedy was highly critical of the lack of water available in the town as the fire swept through.

"There was no water. None of the taps would work," Mr Kennedy said.

"We turned on tap on the post office wall. There was a trickle for 20 minutes. Then no more water, end of story.

"One fella lived opposite the hospital in one of the mill houses. He said that had been able to have water in his hose, he would have been able to save five homes.

"Somebody needs to look into that and find out what happened. There were things that were lost that shouldn't have been lost."

Water Corp put out a statement on Friday afternoon saying water had been unavailable because of the loss of power in the area.‚Äč


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