Residents in Greenbushes remain on alert as emergency crews continue to contain and control a blaze east of the town.
Department of Fire and Emergency Service Incident Control Officer Roger Armstrong told residents gathered in a public meeting this morning to remain on the alert and have an evacuation plan in place.
“We have planned for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.
The department’s online alerts downgraded the Greenbushes fire from an Emergency to Watch and Act late this morning.
Bridgetown-Greenbushes shire president Brian Moore told residents not to be alarmed by “red trucks” on standby within the town.
“There are four structural protection trucks within the town at the moment,” he said.
“If you see them around do not be alarmed.”
Cr Moore said Bridgetown was no longer a “danger zone.”
An information point would be established at the Greenbushes resource centre for residents wanting information.
South West Police Inspector Kim Hutchinson said four vehicle control points had been set up to control traffic on roads surrounding the fire.
“VCPs will change with the needs of the firefighters,” he said.
“These situations can be emotional, however we encourage people to follow directions by police officers.
“Evacuation plans are in place for Greenbushes and Balingup.
“If an evacuation is necessary officers will come through with flashing lights and sirens asking people to move on.”
Mr Hutchinson said South Western Highway was still open and the fire was now 7km to 8km from the main road.
A police officer manning a Vehicle Control Point at the corner of Maranup Ford Road and Huitson Road said traffic was “not too bad” and only volunteer fire and rescue crews had been traveling within the area.
North Greenbushes resident Amanda Cashmere-Green said if the fire got closer to the town she planned to stay and defend her home until it became a serious threat.
“At that point we will leave,” she said.
Mrs Cashmere-Green said families from the area had prepared their homes and fled.
“I know plenty of people with younger kids who have left town,” she said.
“They have prepared their homes as much as they can and gone through to Busselton, Perth and Bunbury,” she said.
“There’s not much else you can do when you’re in the bush.”
However Mrs Cashmere-Green said false rumours about forced-evacuations had circulated the town, causing confusion among residents.
“People are making false claims about forced evacuation ,'' she said.
"I had people ringing from Perth telling me that friends and family were being told from people down here that the police were forcing evacuations and they weren’t.
"We came into town and spoke to police, they are all ready to do it but only if need be. "
Mrs Cashmere-Green said similar claims had passed through the town during bushfires in 2009.
North Greenbushes resident Derrice Potter, who owns what is known as Potter’s Mill with husband Ian, said her husband had spent the night protecting the mill.
“He’s out there at the moment putting spot fires out,” she said.
“The fire hasn’t damaged the mill as far as I know.
“We appreciate the help of crews who have worked to try and contain the fire.”
At Bridgetown’s public meeting, Greenbushes resident Tony Candido who was evacuated from her home and has not been allowed to return, described fire and emergency crews as “heroes.”
“As far as I’m concerned they are our heroes,” she said.
“Everybody, they were just so fantastic last night, it was very scary.
“I just think they did the best they can, they put their lives on the line.
“They didn’t put out evacuation orders but they came door-to-door checking whether we were safe.
“I had a fireman trying to find my mum’s cat.”
Southern Forests Food Council executive officer Jeff Pow, who lost his heritage listed home Southampton Homestead yesterday, said he was “devastated” by the loss of his “beautiful” home.
“We were on business in London so unable to defend or assist the gallant firefighting efforts of friends and neighbours who have put their lives on the line fighting to save our home,” he said.
“With the loss of Walcliffe House at the recent Margaret River fires, we hope this sends a clear message to the State and Federal government heritage agencies to act with haste and to provide deluge fire defence systems for the remaining colonial properties before they share our fate.”