Arson squad on way to Yallingup to investigate bushfires

A bushfire which in occurred in the coastal areas of Yallingup on February 6, 2021, is now under investigation by the Arson Squad.
A bushfire which in occurred in the coastal areas of Yallingup on February 6, 2021, is now under investigation by the Arson Squad.

Arson Squad Detectives are currently travelling to Yallingup to investigate the cause of a fire that occurred on the evening of February 6, 2021.

The fire was reported to authorities at 6:24pm and quickly escalated to an emergency level with warnings issued to residents in the areas of Yallingup, Injidup, Quedjinup and Natuarliste.

Some residents evacuated their homes taking shelter with family or friends and a car park in Dunsborough.

An evacuation point was established at the Geographe Leisure Centre in Busselton, which closed later that evening when the fires were brought under control.

Injidup resident Jacqui Smalley decided to evacuate with her husband after receiving a text message from their neighbour alerting them to the bushfire.

"After the fire on December 7, 2020 I thought I would have been more organised as I have boxes ready but for us, we did not receive a text message from the firies," she said.

"We would not have known anything about it if a neighbour had not messaged us."

Ms Smalley said they checked the emergency website which showed they were in the red zone and should evacuate.

"So we did but it turned out they got them under control, we just went with the decision on the website."

Ms Smalley said they had spent the day preparing their property for the severe weather that was expected to hit the South West region in the early hours of Sunday morning.

"We were gutter clearing and raking up leaves throughout the day doing all those things, we had an early evening and were in our pyjamas about to watch a movie.

"One minute we were settled and the next minute it all changed, it was a shock.

"I packed the car and my husband packed the caravan, we went driving in the horrible we weather, the visibility at night was pretty bad.

"A friend messaged us to check on us, we went to their place in Qundalup and kept watching [the emergency website].

"Everyone gets a text message but my husband's did not come through until a lot later, if our neighbour had not messaged us we would not have known anything about it."

It is the third suspicious fire which is now under police investigation. On December 7, 2020 a fire was thought to be deliberately lit in Injidup, along with another fire which occurred in December 2019.

Injidup Residents Association spokesperson Kevin Singer said it was becoming too much of a frequent pattern in the little coastal area.

"It is a worry," he said.

"We were very fortunate that the fire at Injidup was identified quickly by a local volunteer who mobilised other residents with fire trailers, they were able to get onto the fire very quickly.

"That is exactly what happened a year ago when there was a fire on the strategic firebreak which started under suspicious circumstances."

Injidup Residents Association spokesperson Kevin Singer.

Injidup Residents Association spokesperson Kevin Singer.

Mr Singer decided to stay at his property, saying the wind direction was heading towards the ocean so they reasonably confident the fire could be controlled.

"Any fire out here in the coastal community does sensitise people to the risk and because we had the same situation on December 7, not so long ago, it is another wake up call for people to appreciate the risk of living in a bushfire prone area," he said.

"Most of us could see the fire on the Mount Duckworth ridge, we had on one hand a fire that looked like it was getting out of control and heading towards the Yallingup township.

"Then of course we had one right on our doorstep heading towards the coast."

Mr Singer said the important message to residents and visitors was to report any suspicious activity or vehicles moving slowing around the area.

"Call that in to Crimestoppers straight away so they can triage that priority," he said.

"That is the message that we are putting to the community through our newsletters to be more vigilant to activity they think does not seem right."

Mr Singer said the Injidup association was born out of the strategic firebreak fire in December 2019, so they could collaborate with the City of Busselton, DBCA, the volunteer brigade and the Bushfire Ready coordinators.

"Together we can improve the education and landowners for them to take that responsiblity of mitigation," he said.

"The second thing is to be alert to the possibility of people behaving suspiciously in the area because it won't take much to tip these fire events into a catastrophe.

"Then of course everyone loses because it is too late."

The fires in the Yallingup area came after a week of devastating bushfires in the Perth Hills where 86 homes were lost.

Investigators are appealing for anyone with information regarding the fire to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or to make a report online at crimestopperswa.com.au.