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paruna wildlife bushfire
The Fire scar and location of Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary Wildlife pictures, Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Wildlife sanctuary saved

By Claire Ottaviano

PARUNA Wildlife Sanctuary escaped last week’s blaze relatively unscathed as flames came within a breath of fences and infrastructure.

The 1912ha flora and fauna sanctuary is owned by not-for-profit Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) and is nestled between the Avon Valley and Walyunga National Parks in Gidgegannup.

Aside from smoke damage to a property on the site and incidental damage associated with emergency services access, Paruna suffered no significant loss or destruction.

Another AWC Sanctuary, Karakamia, just north of Chidlow and west of Wooroloo, also came under threat but narrowly missed the fire’s path.

AWC Chief Operations Officer James Hewitt said staff returned to the sanctuary on Monday to find the heroic efforts of firefighters had saved the sanctuary.

“The boundary of the property was also heavily bombarded with fire retardant over the course of the firefighting effort,” he said.

“There’s a little bit of singeing along the fences, that’s how close it came, but largely there was no significant damage.”

In addition to annual prescribed burns, staff conduct what’s called mosaic burning on a ten year cycle.

“What it does is creates a mosaic pattern around the landscape to break up significant fires if one was to come through,” Mr Hewitt said.

“The strategy to create this mosaic of fire scars is guided by a fire management strategy each year.”

Conservation staff who live on site are also trained in fire management to manage small fires, but in the case of fires such as last week, all staff were evacuated.

The sanctuary is closed to the public each summer between November and April to reduce fire risk and personal risk to visitors during extreme summer heat conditions.

It is expected to reopen as normal in a few months.

See also, Trail improvements at Paruna

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