Western Australia is on the verge of another devastating bushfire season, a report into the state’s emergency readiness for the summer has conceded.
The combination of a heavy fuel load, a dry winter and looming unhelpful weather conditions are threatening to produce major bushfires around the state, particularly in the southwest and midwest.
More than half the state can expect "above normal bushfire activity", the report said.
Emergency Services Minister Troy Buswell admitted if more than two major fires break out simultaneously this summer, WA firefighters and volunteers may struggle to cope.
And while Mr Buswell said the changes to the fire and emergency services in the state would make a positive difference, residents should be wary.“This year’s fire season is shaping to be particularly challenging,” he said.
“Will this result in catastrophic bushfires? Not necessarily, as I would like to think accidental ignitions are less likely than in the past.
“But we have had a dry winter, we have relatively heavy fuel loads, we have not been able to complete our targeted prescribed burns.
“We cannot be under any illusions.
“Even with all the extra money we have put in, all the extra training and focus, it will still be difficult for us to manage more than two large-scale fires simultaneously and our resources would be stretched.”
The warnings came on the day the state government admitted total responsibility for the damage caused by the Margaret River bushfires last November, which were caused by a government department-prescribed burn that got out of control.
Also released were two independent post-incident analyses into the Nannup and Margaret River bushfires of last year, and the government response.
Mr Buswell said cultural changes to the fire and emergency services were in progress, but there was some way to go.
“We must get away from the culture in the agencies that says ‘We never make a mistake’. You can never rest in this space,” Mr Buswell said.