WA fires: 'Like a napalm attack' - Yarloop woman recalls the evening her town was lost

This a short account of myself and neighbours on the evening of 7th January, 2016.

The day started like all others, apart from burnt ash and cinders falling from the sky. Within a short time they covered everything .

We knew there was a fire up near Lane Poole so weren't too concerned

 I checked on the TV (nothing); the ABC radio was only reporting on the district of Waroona, so still no concern.

I spent the morning raking leaves and spraying water around. I also went and did the same with the neighbour across the road [with] him being away.

At around 11.30am  the power went off and the hose ran to a trickle as I was filling up containers .

 I packed an overnight bag with the usual toothbrush  PJs , towel etc. and carried on with a normal day.

 As time went by the water bombers got closer and we could see smoke over the escarpment .

[There was] still no direct warning about the fires for Yarloop and we thought, as usual, they would contain it.

Late in the afternoon we gathered in the street to watch the bombers do  their last run. There didn't seem to be much activity in our street or nearby with the fire brigade so we still weren't too worried.

A fire truck then appeared and they called to us to evacuate straight away.

We all got our belongings in the car and went to the town oval. 

I asked my neighbour  to come and help pick up my friend's car. As we were leaving with the vehicle the fire was coming down our street;  the wind was extremely strong and the flames were huge.

We all huddled at the oval in a group. As evening fell the smoke was thick and greasy and soon covered us with soot.

The live embers were hitting our bodies and the smell of smoke was choking. Our eyes were half-closed with ash and the wind still blew a gale.

As the oval started to burn, the last remaining water in the truck was sprayed around us.  

We had to sit and watch each house explode in  a fire ball, it was an inferno, it was like a napalm attack.

I watched the historic museum go up and it seemed to take forever; the noise from it was horrible.

 It was a unique museum and can never be replaced.

We were  a motley bunch on the oval; some had dogs, cats with kittens, birds in cages, even a goat.

I watched in that very short time a whole town be destroyed .

A disaster seems to bring out the best in some and the worst in others. Greed can come to the fore.

I feel overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the people who offer assistance and I would like to thank all agencies for their donations.

I intend to rebuild on my block.

Yarloop is a great place  and am sure it will rise again in time; not as a heritage town, but just a great spot  to live

Out of it all is hope for the future .

I went back to gather what I could from the ruins, (very little) but down in the mechanic pit amongst the ash were a mother bandicoot and her baby. They had been down there  a week. We took them out and away they went.

Also my resident goanna was hiding under a table in the garden. He also had survived  to live another day.

I am getting on in years, but am looking toward a great future also in Yarloop.


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