Fire burns station

Brad Thompson and Glenn CordingleyThe West Australian
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A Kimberley station owner saw years of hard work go up in smoke last week as he battled to save his home and family from a fire that ripped through an area bigger than Perth and its surrounds.

The fire front had been less than 2km from the homestead on Country Downs, but owner Kurt Elezovich said his wife Nikki, sons aged five and two, and their home were safe.

Mr Elezovich has turned his attention to more than 4000 cattle on the 175,000ha station about 100km north of Broome after more than 90 per cent of it was burnt.

South-westerly winds fanned the blaze through 320,000ha. Mr Elezovich said the fire was now small because there was nothing left to burn.

"It ripped through Mt Jowlaenga Station and hit our property across a front of 15km pushed by a howling south-easterly," he said.

Mr Elezovich said he was not prepared to risk lives trying to stop its advance so he retreated to concentrate on back-burning and cutting fire breaks to save his home.

"It is burning a lot of country driven by that wind that under normal conditions just would not burn," he said. "I was in a fire truck with volunteers from Broome and saw 20-foot flames roll over a fire break."

Cattle on the property now have virtually no feed, so the Shire of Broome has agreed to open Cape Leveque Road to road trains to move stock. Department of Fire and Emergency Services district officer Matt Reimer said about a dozen firefighters helped Mr Elezovich fight to save his homestead.

"For a few days it surrounded the homestead and in some places it was more than a kilometre wide," he said.

Mr Elezovich said seeing the blaze from a helicopter was like seeing his whole life on fire.

He and his wife Nikki took over the run-down station with virtually no cattle 11 years ago.

Mr Elezovich said the priority now was to muster the cattle and agist those suitable elsewhere.

"It will take more than this to shift us," he said.

"We will find a way because we always do."

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