19/01/2009 - 15:39

Damage bill from Yanchep fire at $110m

19/01/2009 - 15:39

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The Forest Product Commission has estimated the damage from a fire, which swept through more than 2,500 hectares of pines near Yanchep, at around $100 million to industry and $10 million in stumpage value to the state government.

The Forest Product Commission has estimated the damage from a fire, which swept through more than 2,500 hectares of pines near Yanchep, at around $100 million to industry and $10 million in stumpage value to the state government.

FPC General Manager, Dr Paul Biggs, praised fire crews for their outstanding efforts in bringing the blaze under control, despite having to contend with searing heat and strong winds.

Dr Biggs, who conducted an aerial inspection this morning, said it was a grim feeling to see how the environment had suffered so badly.

"The trees are aged between 15 and 57 years and what is left of them can accurately be described as 'black poles'.

More than 250,000 tonnes of softwood timber, or enough to supply industry for 12 months, was damaged in the blaze.

"Our priority now is to commence salvage operations as soon as practicable in a bid to recover saleable timber however, the fire is the most costly we have experienced.

"Damage to the plantation should not cause major delays in the supply of softwood to industry, but we will consult regularly with our customers over the next few months to make sure they are kept informed of developments, "Dr Biggs said.

At Bridgetown, more than 68 hectares of the FPC's Pinus radiata plantation was destroyed.

"We will get on with planting more trees, but without doubt our thoughts at this time are with those Bridgetown families who lost everything when their homes were razed," said Dr Biggs.

Meantime, a number of bushfires continue to burn throughout the state's south and the north-west tourist area of Shark Bay.

A second bushfire has broken out in the Bridgetown area, 270km south of Perth, 10km north-west from where a major fire burnt over the weekend.

The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) says the blaze is in steep country and burning through Forest Products Commission pine plantations.

Water bombers are being brought in to help fight the blaze.

Lightning strikes sparked a number of new fires in the south-west of the state on Monday, the DEC said.

Nine have been reported in the Mundaring-Dwellingup area, 35 to 100 km south-east of Perth, and another has broken out in the Gnangara Pines area, north-east of Perth.

In the far north of the state, the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) is still fighting fires at Zuytdorp, Gnaraloo and Hamlin in the Shark Bay region, 850km from the state capital.

Residents and tourists on Warra Station and Coral Bay, 120km south of Exmouth, were told earlier on Monday to activate their bushfire plans.

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