UPDATE 6pm: A bushfire on a remote West Australian peninsula was likely caused by humans, not lightning as initially thought, the incident controller says.
The fast-moving bushfire on Doubtful Island Peninsula triggered an emergency alert on Friday morning and efforts were swiftly under way to evacuate eight people staying there in a fishing shack as firefighters worked on containment lines.
All eight campers who rushed to the beach for refuge were offered evacuation by boat, but by late afternoon, the fire had burnt out the peninsula and the immediate danger had passed.
Incident controller Roger Armstrong said it was a positive outcome thanks to the work of firefighters and favourable winds that pushed the blaze to where it could burn no more vegetation.
“The ignition point was in a fortunate position for us. If it had been slightly further to the west, it would have been more difficult,” Mr Armstrong told AAP.
“The wind was particularly in our favour.
“Basically, it started in a narrow neck of a peninsula that bumps out into the sea and the wind was pushing it straight down the peninsula, so all we had to do was keep it on that peninsula and not let it get back onto the mainland.”
The fire was initially thought to have been started by a lightning strike - considering that’s what happened in nearby Bremer Bay earlier this week - but it was now clear humans had caused it, Mr Armstrong said.
The fire began close to the shack where the eight campers, who had been there for several days, were staying, he said.
“We’ve got a fire cause investigation going at the moment,” Mr Armstrong said.
“Now that we’ve got a bit more intelligence, it’s likely to be a human-caused fire.”
Mr Armstrong said the experts who investigated fire causes could determine the point of ignition to “within metres”.
It was likely the cause would be confirmed on Saturday, he said.
Mr Armstrong said he was confident remaining spot fires would remain contained.
“We’ll mop it up tomorrow and hand it back to local government,“ he said.
The sight of smoke had been worrying for Bremer Bay residents, who had only just been let back home after the much bigger bushfire near the town this week, Mr Armstrong said.
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