Perth Hills – One Week Later

Last week’s catastrophic blaze in the Perth hills of Western Australia ended after taking the property toll to 56 homes. The fire – which had flames of up to 20m high and was so hot it melted glass windows – was sparked by a falling power pole on a private property, on a Sunday with gusty winds and temperatures over 40°C.

This saw the beginning of a week where the Rapid Relief Team spent six days and five nights providing for affected residents and emergency crews.

Shortly after the fire began, the RRT were quick to offer assistance to the Salvation Army. Once this was accepted, the team arrived at the Brown Park evacuation centre in Swan View at around 4:30pm.

Plymouth Brethren - Rapid Relief TEam

Serving at the Brown Park evacuation centre on Monday night

This facility had a canteen, and with the RRT’s trailer, equipment and tents outside, many meals and drinks were served to affected members of the community as they came pouring in. The RRT at this location not only provided for residents who spent the night there, but also hundreds of people who attended the community meetings over the following days.

Most of these people were evacuees who spent days away from their homes, and came to community meetings hoping to find out whether or not their houses were safe. RRT members witnessed the distress of many of the community who were advised their homes were destroyed, and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to them.

Plymouth Brethren - Rapid Relief Team

At the evacuation centre on Monday morning

Plymouth Brethren - Rapid Relief TEam

Premier Colin Barnett visited the evacuation centre, and afterwards spoke to the RRT

Firefighters and other emergency crew were also initially served from the Brown Park evacuation centre, often in the early hours of the morning. On Sunday night while the fire was still being fought, RRT members took multiple loads of food and drinks out to weary firefighters and police officers. Energy drinks were particularly well received by emergency crew who had not only worked all day, but through the night as well. One police officer was so tired he took four cans of energy drink around 4:00am!

This activity continued throughout the next day, with RRT members taking burgers, rolls, snacks and drinks out to those who were working to bring the fire under control.

Plymouth Brethren - Rapid Relief Team

Taking food to firefighters in the hot zone on Monday

By Monday night it was apparent that residents in the ‘hot zone’ needed assistance. This area was securely blocked off, as it wasn’t safe to enter. Unfortunately this meant that residents that had stayed to defend their homes weren’t able to freely leave the area, as they wouldn’t be permitted to return.

On Tuesday the RRT set up a supply store at the volunteer firefighter base in Stoneville, offering essential provisions to affected residents who were without power, working fridges, or even clean water. Available here were donated goods such as vegetables, bread, milk, pet food, clean water, newspapers, and petrol.

Plymouth Brethren - Rapid Relief TEam

Supplying provisions to residents in the hot zone

A story that stands out is when an elderly chemotherapy patient approached the RRT at this location asking when power would be available. He had just had treatment a few days earlier and was about to fall ill due to its effects. The RRT quickly supplied power to his house from one of the neighbours, who happened to be one of Rapid Relief Team.

Power generators were kindly lent to the RRT, and were distributed to residents without power. Meals were also served at this location to residents and volunteer firefighters, and it was attended both day and night right up until Friday evening.

Plymouth Brethren - Rapid Relief TEam

Meals were served to affected residents in Stoneville

RRT also set up at a third location on Tuesday, when they began helping at the Incident Control centre at an oval in Parkerville. This is where the Salvation Army were catering for emergency personnel, and the RRT assisted them in serving meals during the day as well as manning their van during the night, up until Thursday night.

Plymouth Brethren - RApid Relief TEam

RRT helped the Salvation Army provide meals to emergency crew

Western Power, who had around 200 crew replacing 150 power poles damaged by the fire, asked the RRT to provide them with meals on Wednesday and Thursday. Each day the RRT obliged by supplying them with 200 rounds of double sandwiches, fruit salad and cakes.

Plymouth Brethren - Rapid Relief TEam

Hundreds of sandwiches ready for Western Power crew

The generous donations that came flooding in during this time of tragedy were overwhelming. Many members of the public as well as local businesses, rallied to supply provisions which the RRT used to assist those affected by the tragedy. The donors are too many to mention, but we would like to sincerely thank each one – their generosity made our efforts possible!

Plymouth Brethren - Rapid Relief TEam

RRT members in the canteen, with piles of donations

We would also like to thank other volunteers and emergency personnel who assisted at this tragedy, and we especially appreciate the efforts of the firefighters – whose quick response and hard work prevented many more houses from being lost.

 For more photos click here

Plymouth Brethren - Rapid Relief TEam

Echo Newspaper

9 thoughts on “Perth Hills – One Week Later”

  1. Lea says:

    Thanks for the reply Loot! I was thinking more of the donations as in the picture above, with the caption “RRT members in the canteen with piles of donations”. Monetarily, I don’t imagine there would be a surplus, as the cost would be huge, a lot being from what would go unseen by most of us. The same would apply for the Salvation Army, I would think?

    1. Loot says:

      oh okay, I guess I should’ve re-read the article!!!!!!!! And yes, I do doubt there would be any monetary surplus. Maybe they give it to those affected by the tragedies?

    2. Alon says:

      I wondered that? Would they keep some sort of contact maybe until those affected are “self-sufficient”? As we know from past experiences, the need dosen’t end once the spotlight is removed! Or do government dept’s take over?

  2. Lea says:

    What happens to all the donations that are “left-over”, or is there a shortfall that the RRT meets from its own pocket?

    1. LOOT says:

      I couldn’t say this with 100% confidence, but I’m pretty sure that there would be a central ‘fund’ that the RRT would draw from when needs be. Because of this (if I am correct!), there wouldn’t be any “left-overs” as such, if there were any, as the spare monies would be used at the next ‘event’ the RRT attends, if you follow me. Don’t take my word for it however – maybe Admin could help?

  3. Rob says:

    These people are truly AMAZING Well done

  4. Lil Munky says:

    Man alive, 6+ days! You must have got through a massive amount of food/water etc!

    Are there and statistics for what you actually used??

    This would also use a lot of man hours. What happens to your businesses during this time as I understand being volunteers, most would normally have day jobs? Do you have to book it out from work as holiday and they just manage without you all or…?

    Gr8 work all involved anyway! 🙂

    1. Nola says:

      As an employer of some of the volunteers, I can say that we would do anything we could to help someone in need. If the need calls for some to miss work to assist, then every support would be given by the whole company to enable that to happen. Those that were with the RRT physically will not have their pay ‘docked’ and the team would all bog in to help share the extra workload. An extract from our teamwork mission statement might help explain. “Our business is about our people, it is the way we work. We help each other to grow & deliver to our clients & the community. We like to work as a team who value respect, loyalty & trust.”

      The goal of growing a successful business is to enable us to meet the needs of our people and to assist with the needs of the broader community.

  5. Lou says:

    Great Job!

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