Perth Fires

Reporter: Jasmine Homer

A shocking fire, but not a surprise to two Perth experts who fear this is a sign of worse to come."I saw on the tv yesterday houses with wild-oats right up to the side of the house trees over the tops of houses and dense bushland within a few metres of the edge of the house."Roger Underwood is a former boss of the Department of Conservation and Land Mangement and now heads an organisation called Bushfire Front. "People seem to not absorb the messages that are being put to them so far about bushfire safety."

Associate Professor Grant Wardell Johnson from Curtin University studies climate change and its effect on the environment. "All the climate change models to south western australia show we're getting drier and warmer and we are getting more extreme events."He warns Perth needs to treat the risk of bushfire as if it's a war, and he says we need to rethink where we live. "In a fire prone environment that we've got in South Western Australia, very dangerous to be building in the bush." Mr Wardell Johnson says there's a serious flaw in WA's urban planning, locating suburbs far too close to bushland. Do you think it's a good idea for there to be more land releases and building of houses and estates in bushland? Well clearly it's not a good idea. He says no more housing should be built near this type of vegetation. "We need to be consolidating to be building up in the places around Perth rather than expanding right out into the rural environment."

"When I see people in thongs and shorts and singlets and a plastic bucket confronting three metre high flames, I have to wonder what the heck is going on." Mr Underwood warns communities are not prepared enough to deal with the risk."People need to accept everywhere that if you own the fuel you own the fire."

Associate Professor Wardell Johnson says building codes need to change, to ensure houses don't turn into fuel for fires. The loss of 59 homes in Roleystone is a disaster, and he warns yet more disasters are waiting to happen. "Local government and state governments need to take a lot more responsibility in the way they plan land releases, the way they allow development applications to be progressed."

The City of Perth has launched an appeal to raise funds for the victims of the fires

Bushfire appeal

www.perth.wa.gov.au