A return of dangerous weather conditions may hamper early work to help Western Australia’s Harvey Shire recover from its bushfire disaster, the local mayor says.
The blaze in the state’s South West region, sparked by lightning on Wednesday, has killed two people, burned more than 71,000 hectares, destroyed 128 homes and wiped out most of the town of Yarloop.
Harvey Shire mayor Tania Jackson says residents still reeling from the disaster are anxious about forecast deteriorating weather.
‘We’ve had a couple of days of mild weather and we appear to be on top of the fire, which is contained but not controlled, and in the meantime we are getting people back to the community and doing assessments on the emergency area,’ Ms Jackson told AAP on Monday night.
‘But just when we think we’re moving into recovery we’ve had spot fires today and we’ve got looming bad weather – high winds and thunderstorms – coming in by the end of the week, so we might be repeating what we had last week.’
Fears about asbestos contamination and damaged trees have prevented some people from returning to homes that were spared from the flames, she said.
‘There are people in limbo now, and that’s really hard to take,’ she said.
Ms Jackson said the community had received donations from across Australia and around the world, but the region is counting on political leaders to provide long-term financial assistance to rebuild.
‘We have had so much support. We just know that if we can get through this stage that we’re going to be able to do what we need to do,’ she said.
Ms Jackson urged anyone looking to help to donate to the Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund. The cost of the blaze is at least $60 million, the Insurance Council of Australia says.