Firefighters call for help in 2015 Esperance bushfires ignored

Community still looking for answers

WA Content Team

29 March 2019

WA Content Team

Article heading image for Firefighters call for help in 2015 Esperance bushfires ignored

The coronial inquest into the devastating Esperance bushfires in 2015 is underway this week. 

It's been revealed emergency services working to contain the fire didn't raise the threat level until after four people had died. 

This has also led WA Police to conduct an internal investigation as to why, according to multiple reports, it took more than two hours for local police to attend the scene. Two witnesses have told the court that they were left frustrated after police who arrived were rude and dismissive.

The coroner has so far this week heard evidence from farmers, volunteer firefighters, and DFES officials into the three blazes that quickly spread amid catastrophic conditions.

A lightning strike had ignited the fires, and a combination of dry weather and strong winds helped them spread quickly, the largest of which spread across 70 kilometres in just five hours.

Fanning across 300,000 hectares of land, the fires destroyed 30,000 hectares of crops and killed 4,500 livestock.

Farmer Kym Curnow and farm workers Tom Butcher, Anna Winther and Julia Kohrs-Lichte perished in two cars engulfed by fire roughly 300 metres apart.

The bushfires have left deep scars in the Esperance community in the three-and-a-half years since they took place, and many feel they have not been given answers.

The long-awaited inquest this week will determine if the fires, whose loss of life was WA's worst in six decades, could have been prevented.

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