Wickepin locals and a State politician hailing from the town are calling on fire and energy authorities to “properly investigate” whether a faulty Western Power line caused a blaze that wiped out 18,000ha of agricultural land. The fire — which started near the intersection of Williams-Kondinin and Armstrong roads in the Shire of Cuballing — was one of two Wheatbelt fires that destroyed 60,000ha of farmland across seven local government areas after igniting on Sunday, February 6. Hundreds of sheep perished in both blazes and an estimated 10,000 more have had to be euthanised during the past week. The Wickepin-Narrogin blaze destroyed 18,000ha of land and also killed or severely injured up to 5000 pigs at a grow out facility owned by one of Westpork’s long-term contract farmers east of Narrogin. Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Darren Klemm confirmed last week the other blaze, which started at Shackleton and burned 40,000ha south to Corrigin, was ignited by an authorised stubble burn conducted “several days before the fire”. But DFES this week said the Wickepin-Narrogin fire was still under investigation and declined to comment further. Several sources from the Wickepin area told Countryman they believed the blaze had been started by “drooping” power lines spaced more than 200m apart that were swinging in the wind and touching each other. A fire started in the exact same location less than a week later on February 11. A Western Power spokeswoman said the cause of the February 6 and February 11 blazes “had not been determined”. “As is standard practice, the cause of the bushfire is being investigated,” she said. “Western Power is assisting in the investigation and is conducting its own network investigation as per normal processes.” Liberal MLC Steve Martin, who farms at Wickepin, said it was “very lucky” no lives had been lost in the Wickepin-Narrogin fire. He used the first day of State Parliament on Tuesday to ask WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston whether Western Power had provided a “notification to the director of energy” informing them of any issue regarding the cause of the Wickepin-Narrogin fire. Mr Martin said there needed to be a “proper investigation” to determine the cause. “The energy minister owes an explanation to the farmers affected by the recent fire in the Narrogin and Wickepin shires,” he said. “The locals are convinced the fire was started by power lines shorting out. “The minister needs to make sure a proper investigation takes place to determine the cause of the fire that killed thousands of livestock, damaged kilometres of fencing and destroyed farm infrastructure.” Mr Martin said farmers told him Western Power quickly put in another pole to shorten the distance between the drooping lines, after a second blaze broke out at the same location on February 11. “If they knew that was the solution . . . why did they wait until after a massively destructive fire to fix the problem,” he said. “And if they didn’t know, why not? Has anybody been inspecting the lines in recent years?” Wickepin farmer Jordan Flavel was one of the first on the scene of the February 6 blaze which started on a paddock his family subleases to another local. He said the blaze got away when it took off in the Yilliminning Reserve. “(We believe) one of the earth wires had shorted on an active line and it has dropped sparks down into the pasture,” he said. Mr Flavel said a Western Power investigator that had visited the site a few days after the blaze found a “mark” where it had shorted. He said he had been told there was a “job logged” in Western Power’s system about the issue with the lines on January 24. Western Power declined to comment on whether that was true. “Quite a few farmers are underinsured, there is a lot of fencing, livestock and sheds destroyed . . . if it was me I would like to be compensated, if Western Power is liable,” Mr Flavel said. “A week later, the same powerlines shorted again and the guy that leases the block put another fire out in that same paddock.” “We had a forecast with similar conditions (for February 11), so why was a pole not put up as soon as possible?” he said. Volunteer firefighter Alastair McDougall, of Narrogin, said locals believed it was the worst blaze the area had seen since 1953. About 80 per cent of his farm was burnt in the blaze and while his stock avoided injury, many were not so lucky. “I’ve been a volunteer firefighter for 50 years, and this is the worst fire I have been involved in fighting, by a long way,” said. “Any fire in the Shire of Narrogin that went for more than 30 minutes I would think ‘this is serious’. Not anymore. “It is devastating. It’s not only farms but we have lost a lot of timber blocks through the area. “Fences can be replaced, we will get pasture back, and the bush will recover. But some of those trees we will never see again.” Bridgetown bushfire caused by tree falling on powerline Mr McDougall said farmers were still coming to terms with the damage. “Some of the difficult jobs have been done but when they start adding up the cost of the whole shebang, it is going to be mind-blowing,” he said. “And in any fire, in any part of the State, everyone starts to turn towards insurance companies and they realise ‘we didn’t have enough’. That is happening already.” Mr Johnston’s office declined to comment.