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History lost as SW  fires rage
History lost as SW fires rage

UPDATE 5.45am: The historic Southampton Homestead was gutted after a string of fires blazed a path of destruction through four shires yesterday.

The heritage-listed property, which was built in 1862 and is about 12km south of Balingup, was one of two properties destroyed when fires started by lightning ripped through the shires of Nannup, Donnybrook-Balingup, Bridgetown-Greenbushes and Manjimup. A home 900m away was also destroyed.

Overnight conditions allowed more than 200 firefighters battling the blaze to make progress on containment lines.

The fire is burning in steep difficult terrain and is about 30 per cent contained, but it is still out of control and unpredictable.

Yesterday residents were forced to flee their homes as the ferocious blaze spread through more than 3000ha. More than 150 residents of the region gathered at the Bridgetown Recreational Centre last night and more are expected to turn out for another community meeting at 10am today. A community meeting will be held in Greenbushes at 11am at the Greenbushes Hall.

This morning a bushfire emergency warning remains in place for people south of Hay Road, west of South Western Highway, north of Forrest Park Ave, west of Maranup Ford Road, north of the Dalgarup plantation and east of Wetherley Road and south of the Nannup-Balingup Road in the Shires of Donnybrook-Balingup, Bridgetown-Greenbushes and Nannup.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services deputy incident controller Danny Mosconi said the terrain and wind had made it difficult to contain the fires.

Firefighters were being helped by six water bombers and two helicopters.

The small town of Greenbushes remains under threat this morning from the blaze that had started west of the Blackwood River.

Greenbushes and Balingup primary schools will be closed today because of the bushfires.

The Bibbulmun Track was closed between Balingup and Donnelly River Village.

Bridgetown resident Dennis Lingane said he listened in horror as radio announcements indicated the blaze was heading towards his property.

"We are just being told that we have to evacuate or stand and fight and frankly I don't think any possessions are worth lives so we will just go away and hope they contain it," he said.

He said he turned on his sprinklers, collected tax files and irreplaceable books before fleeing his home to attend the community meeting in Bridgetown.

Donnybrook resident Nathan King, who helped fight the fires yesterday, described the blaze as aggressive and fast moving.

This morning residents who are still in Greenbushes are advised to leave via South Western Highway towards Bridgetown.

"The wind remained south-westerly overnight and is expected to continue throughout the day. This means homes in Greenbushes may be impacted," a spokesman said.

Southampton Homestead before the blaze.

The owner of the historic Southampton Homestead spoke of his devastation last night.

The homestead, which was built in 1862 and is about 12km south of Balingup, was one of two properties destroyed yesterday.

From London, owner Jeff Pow said his family and friends were heartbroken by the news.

“We were on business in London and 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,” Mr Pow said.

He said he wanted to thank the 200 firefighters who fought the blaze which ripped through the shires of Nannup, Donnybrook-Balingup, Bridgetown-Greenbushes and Manjimup.

“As new farmers, we are also deeply distressed by the injuries sustained by the many varieties of animals on the farm and at a dream literally gone up in flames.”

Mr Pow was last night trying to organise a vet to assess the animals while he made his way back to London to Perth.

The fire near Greenbushes yesterday. Picture: Kate Bastians/The West Australian