Perth Hills bushfire: Heartbreak as WA animal refuge gutted

When zoologist Claire Stratford misplaced her dream job at Perth Zoo because of incapacity a decade in the past, her rural dwelling and the animal refuge she constructed grew to become her life.

This week an out-of-control bushfire destroyed all of it, together with 85 different houses.

“The hearth had began and we might see on the app from the path the wind was blowing we may very well be in bother,” Ms Stratford, 42, informed AAP.

“Nevertheless it was nonetheless in Wooroloo so I did not assume we had an enormous drawback as a result of we’re in Gidgegannup, greater than 10 kilometres away.

“I used to be flawed.”

Ms Stratford and her dad and mom – who lived on the identical rural property about 40km northeast of Perth’s CBD – began transferring dozens of animals from their bush enclosures into cages prepared for evacuation.

“I believe we drove out at 6.30pm and by that stage the timber alongside the highway have been alight,” she mentioned.

The fire threatens Wooroloo and Gidgegannup.
Digital camera IconThe hearth threatens Wooroloo and Gidgegannup. Credit score: DFES

Within the vehicles with Ms Stratford and her household have been six canine with particular wants, ferrets, rabbits, a possum, sheep, cockatoos, macaws, frogs, snakes and turtles. The hearth moved so quick they needed to depart their horses behind.

“There have been embers, the smoke was so thick, large billowing plumes into the sky. The glow was unbelievable and I might see then we have been going to lose each homes.”

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Ms Stratford’s brother-in-law stayed behind to struggle the blaze on her sister’s neighbouring property.

“It is also gone. We misplaced contact with him about 7pm and my sister was hysterical many of the night time as a result of we did not know if he’d bought out,” she mentioned.

“He might hardly rise up when he bought to us the following morning he was so exhausted and simply mentioned to my sister “I am sorry my darling, I could not save our home”.

“His face was burned, he was coughing always and needed to go to hospital for smoke inhalation.”

Ms Stratford’s household have since discovered all three houses on the 2 properties have been destroyed on Monday night time, as the huge blaze swept west by means of the hills and down onto Perth’s coastal plain the place it continues to burn.

“My dwelling was every thing. Dropping my job on the zoo as a result of I could not proceed it shattered my coronary heart, so constructing the property into an animal refuge grew to become my life and what’s saved me going,” she mentioned.

“It has been my drive, my focus, my every thing.”

Ms Stratford suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a uncommon genetic dysfunction that impacts her pores and skin and joints, and makes on a regular basis life nearly unattainable.

She saved her animals from the blaze however misplaced a whole bunch of 1000’s of {dollars} price of specialized medical gear.

Her household additionally misplaced most of their private possessions and regardless of nonetheless being in shock on the lack of their houses have spent the week organising Ms Stratford’s medical care.

“We’re shattered. It is exhausting to understand what’s occurred. I do not know if I’ve the power to rebuild however these animals have been my life and deserve stunning enclosures once more,” she mentioned.

“At the least my stunning horses survived.”