Mariginiup residents and businesses begin picking up the pieces after bushfire devastation

mariginiup residents and businesses begin picking up the pieces after bushfire devastation

Laura and Sean escaped the fire with their three children but lost vehicles and tools from Sean’s new plastering business.  (ABC News: James Carmody)

Sean Ryan and Laura Robertson never imagined the havoc a bushfire could wreak on their lives.

“You don’t think it’s going to happen,” Ms Robertson said.

But in the midst of an unusual November heatwave, that’s exactly what happened.

“We watched it on the radar and we thought ‘it’s never going to swing that way’.

“It was tracking to go just past us, and then apparently the neighbours said … the two fires met on the block with the long grass and it just shot through here.”

They’re one of a number of families returning home after last week’s devastating bushfire in Perth’s north, which destroyed 18 homes.

With their rental property severely damaged, they’ll be staying at a friend’s place as they try to find a new home.

The couple and their three children, aged between five and nine, all managed to get away before the fire took hold of the property.

‘We’ll have to recover’

But Mr Ryan only recently started a business and is now coming to terms with the loss of the vast majority of his equipment.

“We started a new plastering business but it’s only fresh and we just didn’t have the chance to get the insurance on the go yet,” he said.

“[I’m a] bit gutted, I do still have some of my tools but a lot got nailed which is not ideal.

“It’s not good, but we’ll have to recover somehow.

He has little choice but to continue working as best he can, while dealing with the trauma of the fire.

“[I’m] just continuing on because obviously I know I’ve got a lot to recoup, so just got to keep working,” he said.

Strawberry farm decimated

Nearby, Tin Huynh and his 18-year-old daughter Kathi returned to their strawberry farm to survey the damage and try to salvage whatever crops haven’t been destroyed.

Mr Huynh moved to Australia from Vietnam in 1995, before buying the farm eight years ago, and from a young age his daughter saw how hard he worked.

“Everything in the shed’s just gone, it was stock from containers, bug spray, stuff for the crop and now it’s like just all gone,” Ms Huynh said.

“He doesn’t know how to feel because now he has to start from the bottom again.

“It wasn’t easy for him to come here, because he had to work his way to the top.”

She said it’s difficult to comprehend.

“A few days ago it was here standing, bright, and now it’s just like, nothing.”

While the fire is now contained and controlled, authorities say it could continue burning for months, and those returning to their properties have been warned to remain vigilant.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services incident controller Clint Kuchel said damage caused by the fire could create a host of potential dangers.

“There’s still hazards around, so there’s still trees that are impacted by fire that may become unstable and drop limbs,” he said.

“There may be structures that have been impacted by fire that may become unstable.

“So people returning home and moving in and around the impacted area really need to be vigilant.”

Mr Kuchel hopes the devastating impact of the fire will serve as a warning to West Australians across the state to be prepared for the possibility of more emergencies as the summer approaches.

“It is going to be a long hot summer.

“Whether you’re in a bush area or a built-up area, we do need to stay vigilant.

“Whether it’s south of Perth, whether it’s north of Perth, or in the hills to the east, or in the regions, there is a number of fires burning right now.

“Understand the stress that puts on our emergency services, understand the stress that it can put on others that have experienced fire, but really be prepared.

“Build your bushfire emergency plans, make sure you have the conversation at home.”

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