A cruel game of chance
A property in Iron Road destroyed in the fire. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Flames still burned among the charred ruins of a two-storey timber home in the Parkerville bush yesterday afternoon.

Among a pile of twisted tin and ash, a burnt hot water system was one of the few items still recognisable.

But in the ruins of a carport, two brightly coloured bicycles seemed to have survived.

It was evidence of the cruel lottery of the ferocious fire at play at the Iron Road property - the random destruction that saw one house razed and others virtually untouched.

Standing on a paved entrance, other homes could be seen still standing through the still smouldering trees.

Firefighters had managed to save the home on a neighbouring property after the flames almost reached the front door.

At other nearby properties, sheds or carports were taken but homes survived.

One Iron Road resident said the owners of the two-storey house knew their home had burned and had gone to stay with relatives.

The fast-moving fire created pandemonium as it spread, with panicked triple-zero calls from people reporting the flames were already at their back door in Parkerville, while others said houses were already on fire.

Hundreds were evacuated and many waited anxiously at roadblocks to learn the fate of their homes.

Kevin, who didn't want his surname used, returned to his Schoch Road property expecting to see it destroyed. He had evacuated early, gathering his dog and valuables, his wife was already in Perth.

"Survival is most important, everything else is replaceable . . . we let nature take its course," he said.

Kevin was not there to see firefighters race to his property to douse spot fires that ignited bush not far from his door, but he was grateful to see the result of their hard work - his home, still standing.

"I just want to thank all the firefighters and other emergency services for what they've done to help everyone today," he said.

When asked how relieved he felt to see his home intact, he answered: "On a scale of one to ten - about 10 million."

As a front-end loader cleared a fire break around his neighbour's home to stop the spread of a large spot fire that ignited in bush, Sean Cranenburgh and a friend desperately raced to put out smaller fires that sparked on his Schoch Road property using eskies of water from his pool.

His wife and children had left early but he stayed to defend the home they had lived in for 12 years, dousing the roof and surrounds with water.

"You can always prepare for this but you're never prepared enough," he said. Even as the wind started to push the fire away from his home he said he was not feeling lucky. "It's not over, the wind's very unpredictable," he said. "I've got to make sure it doesn't switch, but everyone has done a great job."

At a roadblock on Richardson Road and Granite Road, residents watched helpless, unable to see if the thick black smoke was evidence their home had gone up in flames.

Mark said he was numb as he waited for news. He had grabbed his cat Cruseax and left his home after going outside and realising the smoke was getting close.

"Everything had an orange glow and the winds were strong," he said. "I could see 20-metre flames in the gully on the southern side of Richardson Road."

Another Richardson Road resident, who did not want to be named, said he had taken his pregnant partner and three children to safety before returning to water the roof of their timber home. But he fled when he saw flames in the backyard.

He first moved to nearby shops at Stoneville but a spot fire started on the nearby verge.

"Within minutes flames had hit the trees and the wind came up and it went black, we couldn't see anything," he said.

He said they had lived in the area for just a few years but his parents lived in Darlington so they were used to bushfires.

"But this is the closest we've ever been," he said, as he waited anxiously to learn if his house had survived.

Survival is most important, everything else is replaceable. " Parkerville resident *Kevin *

The West Australian

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