Yarloop clean-up begins as state recovery team moves in

THE future of Yarloop will be decided by community members, with consultation involving land owners, residents, shires and community groups set to start next month.

The State Recovery Team moved in to the devastated town on Wednesday, with project manager Rene Baur describing the clean-up task as a “very large job”, but not one his workers couldn’t handle.

More than 72,000 hectares were destroyed by bushfires which raged through the region in January.

Yarloop was decimated in one night, with 181 homes and businesses lost as the town bore the brunt of the blaze’s ferocity.

It was this intensity which Mr Baur said made for a difficult clean up, with moisture-soaked asbestos exploding during the emergency, creating a much larger contamination area than seen in smaller fire zones.

“It’s a complex operation,” he said.

“We make the assumption everything is contaminated.”

Mr Baur said the recovery team hoped to have the heritage precinct close to Yarloop’s war memorial ready in time for Anzac Day, with up to 400 expected to attend what will almost certainly be an emotional service.

The massive effort required to make Yarloop safe will then extend to the town’s southern and northern zones.

But even with the town made safe again, there is no guarantee on what the future holds for its displaced residents.

Premier Colin Barnett said a consultation process would be undertaken while the clean-up operation proceeded, and that there was no pre-determined position on the immediate future of Yarloop.

State Recovery Controller Ken Michael will start this process at a community meeting in Harvey on Wednesday evening.

It is understood consultations with residents will remain confidential, with aggregated information to be analysed with Waroona and Harvey shires before options are tabled.


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