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Three Ellenbrook teenagers were charged after arson squad investigations into the fire that burnt 25ha. Picture: WA Police

Fire gawkers anger residents

CROWDS of onlookers blocking roads and restricting exits in an effort to get a look at a major fire that threatened homes in Aveley have angered residents. 

A 15-year-old boy and two 14-year-old boys from Ellenbrook were charged after Arson Squad investigations into the fire that burnt 25 hectares.

It will be alleged the juveniles put dry grass into a shopping trolley and set it alight. 

WA Police Spokeswoman Susan Usher said the boys tipped the trolley over in an effort to extinguish the fire, but the flames ignited more scrub and was spread by strong winds.

Many residents chose to flee their homes while many felt left in the dark waiting for an alert that took two hours to come.

Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan said the delay in communications was unacceptable.

“The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has advised me that a decision was delayed as a result of a number of competing priorities,” he said.

“A more detailed investigation is underway.”

Zanzibar Road resident Susan Finlayson praised firefighters for their quick reaction to the rapidly spreading fire but felt police needed to close the roads quicker to stop the public entering the street and causing havoc.

“I couldn’t believe the amount of people here just gawking,” she said. 

“We need the police to get here quicker to help block the roads to stop the ones coming just to look.

“The fire engines couldn’t get to the hydrant because someone had parked right in front, I thought they were going to ram her car right out of the way.”

She said claims in the media that aerial support was unavailable had originally angered her.

But Mr Logan told Echo News the aerial fleet was a resource-heavy operation deployed during the peak season from November to April.

“Aerial support was not the issue in this fire and claims by the opposition that the use of the aerial fleet was cut short to save money are disingenuous and irresponsible,” he said.

“The aerial fleet season ended at the same time that it has for several years, which includes under the previous government.”

Long term resident Christine Perham said although it would have helped to have more information from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, more problems came from cars blocking the exits.

“The real problem was people coming to have a look, there was even a car accident at the end of the street because people were panicking and the street was just full of cars,” she said.

“There wasn’t enough notice of what to do so we just got the dog and we left.”

The teenagers charged over the incident will appear in the Midland Children’s Court later this month.

By Claire Ottaviano

About The Editorial Team

Echo News gives readers an alternative to other media outlets in WA and enjoys a very high rate of readership in its distribution area. Our Echo News team are a small group of devoted individuals who work hard to give the local community an easy to read, yet intelligent mix of local community stories.

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