DETECTIVES from the arson squad’s Strike Force Vulcan are investigating the suspicious fire that burnt about 4000ha of bushland in Sawyers Valley, covering Perth in a thick blanket of smoke this week, but would not confirm arson.
Monday’s rain gave relief to local, state and volunteer firefighters controlling the fire reported at 8.30am the previous day.
Volunteer brigades across the hills region were out in force with state and Shire of Mundaring firefighters attending after the blaze quickly spread from Gorrie and Chamber roads to Mundaring Weir.
On Thursday afternoon a WA Police spokeswoman said investigators had determined the bushfire had two ignition points about 200m apart.
In an earlier statement WA Police media liaison officer Susan Usher said police and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services were always disappointed to discover a fire was deliberately lit.
“Strike Force Vulcan officers are seeking any and all information regarding any persons or vehicles sighted in the vicinity of the fire,” she said.
“Deliberate fires place an enormous financial burden on the community.
“They also have the potential to kill and injure people and animals, and destroy homes and animal habitats.”
West Gidgegannup Volunteer Bushfire Brigade captain Beau Algeri said on Monday that although heavy rainfall gave the fire teams attending a reprieve, there would still be plenty of work to do.
“The rain cooled (the fire) down but the remains could be burning for weeks,” he said.
“Just the sheer number of hectares, 3000, that’s a lot of trees.
“The intensity of the fire once ignited would continue to slowly burn even after the rain stops.”
Mr Algeri said strong winds effected how quickly the wildfire spread.
WA Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Jun Chen said a good easterly wind travelling at between 30km/h and 40km/h carried the smoke and haze a great distance further than usual.
The Shire of Mundaring stood down its 114 firefighters, who were tested by earlier high temperatures and gusty winds, on Monday.
Detectives from the arson squad’s Strike Force Vulcan are seeking information from the driver of a grey early 2000 model Ford Falcon to help with the investigation.
The Sawyers Valley incident adds to the already busy year for local firefighters who have battled house fires in Mount Helena (Fire sparks outpouring of generosity, page 5), Greenmount and Guildford this month.
Midland detectives also arrested a 48-year-old man on Tuesday after he allegedly lit fires in scrub along Roe Hwy near Morrison Rd in Midvale.
By Claire Ottaviano