More relief for bushfire victims

Countryman

The Margaret River bushfire has been declared a natural disaster, triggering extra funding from the State and Federal governments.

About 40 firefighters continued mopping up around the fire this week and hundreds of residents returned to their homes after evacuating when a prescribed burn in a national park escaped and tore into bushy subdivisions.

The State Government has copped flak over the blaze, started by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) in September and reignited last Monday last week.

Amid calls by the Opposition for Environment Minister Bill Marmion to be sacked, Premier Colin Barnett has announced the region's primary producers and small business owners who suffered loss could claim up to $15,000 under the natural disaster declaration.

The WA Government has already announced that families who lost houses can get $3000 emergency assistance grants, while those whose houses suffered damage can get $1000.

As questions about culpability for the fire continue, the StateGovernment has announced a $500,000 donation - on behalf of all West Australians - to the Lord Mayor's Distress Relief Fund for the Margaret River fire.

According to the DEC, 32 houses, nine holiday chalets and five sheds were lost in the blaze at Prevelly, Gnarabup and Redgate. A further 22 houses and a shop were damaged.

DEC director-general Keiran McNamara has defended the burn, saying unseasonal wet weather prevented it being completed in the time expected but it needed to be reignited to ensure it burnt out.

At the time of going to press on Tuesday a bushfire advice was also current for south of Nannup in the Lake Jasper and Donnelly River areas, in the Nannup Shire and 19km north-east of Denmark in the Denmark Shire.

The Nannup fire was reported on November 23 and burnt about 29,785ha. Two farm sheds were lost in the fire and a house and ancillary structures were damaged.

The Denmark fire was contained but burnt through about 5600ha.

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