Lucky escape for Seatrees residents

Seatrees resident Ronni Arnold says Gingin evacuation centre volunteers went above and beyond in helping his family when they were forced to flee their home last Thursday. Picture: Anita McInnes

SEATREES resident Ronni Arnold says a red haze was visible through the kitchen window and the smoke was very thick before he and his family left their Countryside Dr home last Thursday.

At 3.06pm Breakwater and Seatrees estates had gone to an emergency warning with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) asking people to leave the area immediately.

When Mr Arnold and his family were told to evacuate by a policeman about 5pm they had less than five minutes to grab some essentials.

“I only had enough time to go back in the house twice and that was very quick just to pick up things like underwear – didn’t even get bedding didn’t have time – just getting a few electronics like a mobile phone and looking around for that in a hell of a hurry and the keys to the car that was all I had time for,’’ he said.

“They blocked Indian Ocean Dr off so you couldn’t head right going towards Joondalup so basically the police said one way out – Gingin – was the best shot.

They heard on the radio while heading to Gingin that the Granville Civic Centre was going to be an evacuation centre.

Mr Arnold spoke to Yanchep News Online while the family was still at the centre on Tuesday, December 17.

“We thought thank god for that we’ve got some place to go so we came in here and registered as soon as we arrived.

“They have been fantastic – Red Cross and the volunteers in general – all absolutely wonderful people.

“So many I know their names but (too) many to list.’’

“You couldn’t wish for a better (ambulance crew) and one of the ladies who had knocked off work came back.

“My mother who is elderly, she’s 88 and she’s got a lot of problems she’s in Joondalup hospital at the moment having scans done and she’ll be transferred from there to back here later this afternoon.

“But these people the ambulance driver one of them said ‘Look I’m really concerned about you you’re a little bit cold I’m going to go home and get a blanket’ and she did and brought it back.’’

He said this was over and above what was expected but it was what country people were all about.

“I love country people – when things go wrong they all gel together.’’

On Tuesday Mr Arnold said this was the second time in the past 12 years there had been a bad bushfire in the area but it had been before Breakwater estate was developed.

He said he raised the issue of how essential it was for the power leading to the estates to be put underground at a community meeting attended by Agricultural Region MLC Darren West.

“Why should taxpayers keep having to pay to foot the bill time and time again to replace land poles and lamp posts and have linesman come out and re-string lines and put up more transformers because they’ve melted in the heat,’’ Mr Arnold said.

On December 12 when Breakwater and Seatrees estates went to an emergency warning firefighters were also saving homes in north Yanchep – in an area bounded by Yanchep Beach Rd to the south, Splendid Park to the east, Karril Turn to the north and Two Rocks road to the west, after an emergency warning was broadcast for the area at 12.39pm.

By 4.55pm Two Rocks had also gone onto emergency warning and 150 firefighters were battling the bushfire, which was reported at 2.19pm on Wednesday, December 11.

The bushfire started in the S-bends on Wanneroo Rd destroying beehives and a house on Yanchep Beach Rd and Yanchep Service Station as it quickly spread towards the Yanchep town centre.

The service station on the corner of Yanchep Beach Rd and Kakadu Rd was closed as embers were flying around and the Yanchep Central Shopping Centre was evacuated.

About 5pm some Yanchep residents were sent emergency warning text messages from DFES telling them if the way was clear they should leave the area.