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Prescribed burning window narrows in WA

AAP logoAAP 3/10/2016 Rebecca Le May

The already slim window for prescribed burns in Western Australia's thickly forested south is narrowing as bushfire season approaches, with wet weather continuing into spring.

"It certainly needs to stop raining before much can be done and it looks like we're going to get halfway through October before it might even think about drying out," Augusta-Margaret River Mayor Ian Earl told AAP.

"That's going to narrow the window of opportunity for controlled burns and some of the mitigation work.

"But we'll be trying as hard as we can to get there."

Mr Earl said the surfing and foodie mecca, where 39 homes were destroyed after a burn-off escaped boundaries in November 2011, was otherwise "as prepared as you can be".

Extra firefighting resources were added to the region after the disaster, which tore through the coastal community at Prevelly beach and razed the historic Wallcliffe House, built in 1865.

The Barnett government had been lashed for missing all of its prescribed burning targets during its eight years in power, but that may be unfair criticism, Mr Earl said.

"It's more what you burn, not how much you burn," the experienced volunteer firefighter said.

"If you can get your burns and your other protections in and around your towns and critical infrastructure, that's what's going to help."

He said he agreed with bushfire expert Euan Ferguson, who wrote in his report into the lightning-sparked blaze at Yarloop in January - which killed two men and almost wiped out the historic town - that all community members had a role to play with fire mitigation work.

"We need to get that done at the front end rather than at the back end when the fire's getting away and we're all running around flat out for days trying to put it out," Mr Earl said.

He welcomed the state government's acceptance last week of all 17 of Mr Ferguson's recommendations, including establishing a critical messaging system that will issue warnings to communities under threat, but added people needed to be observant and use their common sense.

In his report, Mr Ferguson noted that while many Yarloop residents had a general awareness that a major fire was burning to the east, a lot of locals were waiting for a final official message to leave.

"Walk outside and have a look, and when you've got a bloody great pyrocumulus cloud going up ... people should be getting themselves prepared rather than wait for a message," Mr Earl said.

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