The evacuation of the Margaret River region has ended, as the devastating bush fires that swept through a series of National Parks last week are brought under control.
Fires seen from the McHenry Hohen winery
After struggling to control the fires for several days, the Australian Department of Energy and Conservation told local newspaper WA Today on Sunday that ‘the fire is now within containment lines and weather conditions are favourable.’
According to the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA), 32 houses and nine holiday chalets have been destroyed in Margaret River. The damage has mostly occurred in the National Parks that directly run along the coast in the southern end of the region.
The majority of local residents returned to their homes on Sunday evening.
Nick Power of the Margaret River Wine Association told Decanter.com the fires’ impact upon the 2012 Margaret River vintage would be ‘minimal’.
‘From the information at hand and a preliminary site visit undertaken early this morning damage has been limited to 3 – 4 vineyards and wineries only.’
Simone Horgan-Furlong, marketing manager for Leeuwin Estate said life was returning to normal for the majority of wineries in Margaret River.
‘Leeuwin Estate sustained no damage to the winery or vineyards from either fire or smoke and we returned to work on Saturday. As the fires travelled south along the coast a precautionary evacuation of the estate occurred late Thursday’, she told Decanter.com.
‘The fire and smoke remained some distance from the vineyards and it was too early in the growing season for the vintage to be impacted by smoke taint’, she added.
Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines confirmed that her winery had not been affected and that she had – ‘no concerns over smoke taint’.
One of the only producers to have lost vines in the fire was McHenry Hohnen. In an official statement, the winery’s Ryan Walsh said some 2ha of Chardonnay and Grenache vines had been ‘scorched’ by spot fires created by high winds.
There is no long-term loss and no smoke damage as the fruit had not yet reached veraison, he said.
With the evacuation order suspended, attention now turns to the authorities to ensure that the devastation is not repeated.
‘The Western Australian State government has announced there will be a far ranging review into the cause of the bush-fires. It would appear that the likelihood is that they were man-made rather than caused by nature’, Power said.
As of Monday (28 November) there have been no reports of injury due to the fires.
Written by James Lawrence