'The houses were just exploding'

At least 95 homes were destroyed, along with many historic buildings. Photo / Twitter
At least 95 homes were destroyed, along with many historic buildings. Photo / Twitter

There is little left of Yarloop after the ferocious bushfire swept through.

It kept going once it passed Ron Sackville's home and "just wiped the whole town out".

"Once it hit the town there was not stopping it because the houses were just exploding," Mr Sackville told AAP from Yarloop.

"They were just going, one after the other, down the street here.

"The town's absolutely devastated."

He heard gas bottles and petrol drums explode as the blaze surrounded his well-prepared home, which was equipped with firefighting hoses and pump plus a good firebreak with the grass slashed in the surrounding paddock.

"That's why we survived."

At least 95 homes were destroyed, along with many historic buildings.

"Most of it's gone," Mr Sackville said. "It's terrible."

Another resident who stayed to protect his home, Alex Jovanovich, described the fire as crazy.


"One fireball after another. The wind, it was that frigging strong, it was unbelievable, but I managed to save my house and I saved the house next door.

"It's devastating. There is bugger all left."

There is little left in the main street, only the post office and lotto business Mr Sackville runs, the one stop shop and a small shed next to the post office.

"That's it. It's pretty bleak down here," Mr Sackville said.

Mr Sackville estimated 50 or 60 residents chose to stay in town on Thursday night, but most lost their homes. Many are in shock.

"One of my friends just turned up in his ute and he said: 'That's it Ron, what I'm standing in and the ute, that's it'."

Mr Sackville said the water supply and power cut out. Locals had complained about the water service and hydrants last year, he said.

"I know there's a pretty angry feeling in the town at the moment about what's happened regarding the water."

Mr Sackville said a water-bombing helicopter left about 5.30pm on Thursday and once the fire hit vacant land at the town's north that hadn't been cleared for years, even firefighters had to back off.

"They had to pull back because it was just so fierce," he said.

"That's when I'd say we lost the town at that point."

Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis estimated a third of the township had been destroyed but Mr Sackville said it looked more like 95 per cent.

The hotel, the 110-year-old Yarloop Workshops and Steam Museum, the heritage doctor's residence at the old community hospital, most of the school. All gone.

"A massive amount of history has been lost in this fire, massive," Mr Sackville said.

More than a dozen people, including Mr Sackville, had opted to stay in town while others were being helped to leave on Friday.

"Hopefully people will want to come back and try to rebuild because it's a great little town."

But he is not sure that will happen in a town where there are many rental properties owned by Alcoa, which runs the nearby alumina refinery.

"There's a lot of people just saying they don't know where they're going to go. They lost everything."

- AAP

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