What caused the Yanchep bushfire?

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The sign opposite the overhead power line on Wanneroo Rd warning motorists to be aware of smoke. Picture: Anita McInnes

MORE than four weeks after the Yanchep bushfire, which destroyed a service station and a home on Yanchep Beach Rd, there is still little information available to the public as to what caused the fire.

On December 24 in Yanchep bushfireuses about 4.7m litres of water it was reported that Yanchep News Online understood the bushfire originally started sometime in the morning of  Wednesday, December 11 in the S-bends on Wanneroo Rd near the Yanchep Beach Rd intersection and was thought to have been extinguished.

On January 13 when Yanchep News Online asked the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) if the cause of the bushfire had been determined a DFES spokeswoman said the investigation was still ongoing and at this stage there was no estimated date on when it was likely to finish.

The DFES spokeswoman referred specific questions about the cause of the bushfire back to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) as Parks and Wildlife was managing the bushfire when the bushfire watch and act was issued at 3.07pm on December 11.

That bushfire watch and act said the bushfire, which had at that stage burnt 5ha, had been reported at 2.16pm.

Yanchep News Online asked whether a power pole in Western Power’s overhead power line on the left hand side of the road not far from the Yanchep Beach Rd and Indian Ocean Dr-Wanneroo Rd intersection was part of the investigation.

DBCA was also asked if fireys or Parks and Wildlife personnel had been patrolling a burnt out patch of land in the area about 10.30am on December 11.

The department was also asked whether there was any peat in the area where the bushfire started and if yes was that the cause of the hint of smoke in the area.

On Friday, January 24 a DBCA spokeswoman told Yanchep News Online the department was still not ready to respond to questions but would do so as soon as it could.

Heading towards Wanneroo on Wanneroo Rd (in an area some residents call the S-bends) there is an overhead power line on the left hand side of the road. Picture: Anita McInnes

At a briefing session at the incident control centre in Carabooda at 8.45am on December 14 incident control officer Andy Hinton was asked by ABC News if the bushfire had been caused by an exploding Western Power power pole.

Mr Hinton would only say they knew where the bushfire had started and it was still being investigated but its cause was not suspicious.

According to the DBCA website each year Parks and Wildlife responds to more than 600 bushfires on or near land managed by the department.

“Bushfires have many causes, some natural such as lightning and some as a result of human activity such as camp fires, escapes from prescribed burning operations, industrial activity such as timber harvesting, mining, farming and power transmission, and some from deliberate arson,’’ the website says.

The DFES fire investigation and analysis unit (FIAU) investigates the origin and cause of all fires attended by DFES, provides assistance to WA Police to detect and apprehend arsonists.

According to the DFES website FIAU also provides advice to insurance investigators, government agencies and authorities and the general community as well as identifying faulty products and work practices which cause fires.

The website says FIAU will attend fires which have an unknown cause, are suspicious in nature, involve a fatality, involve life threatening injuries, are politically sensitive, damage significant infrastructure and significant accidental fires.