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Gascoyne bushfires burn for two weeks, killing livestock, destroying land and devastating

For the past two weeks, pastoralists, including Tim and Chris Higham, in Western Australia’s Gascoyne region have been battling ferocious bushfires that have destroyed property and livestock.

Meedo Station, 800 kilometres north of Perth, has for more than 16 years been home to the Higham family, who run cattle, sheep and goats.

When lightning struck on January 6, three fires broke out in the area, plus another further north. 

Combined with strong winds and a significant fuel load, two of the fires joined together to form one mammoth blaze.

A woman wearing a hat and mask across her mouth stands in a dusty yard of goats.
Chris Higham says she has never seen such a ferocious bushfire.(Supplied: Kaufmann Productions PL)

“We’ve had fires previously, but nothing quite as ferocious as this one,” Mrs Higham said.

“The [fire] that came up from Woodleigh Station covered ground in 10 hours that they’d modelled it to do in 48.

In an early estimation, Mrs Higham believed at least 60 per cent of her station’s productive land and kilometres of fencing had been destroyed in the blaze.

At least 300 sheep and an unknown number of goats were believed to have died.

Mrs Higham said she could not yet put a figure on the loss to the station.

“It’s just been razed.” 

Yellow grass in flames near small scrubby trees
The Gascoyne region received unusually high rainfall in 2021, creating a significant fuel load.(Supplied: Department of Fire and Emergency Services)

Fires contained, but extreme temps, winds forecast

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said the four fires had been brought under control and were contained, but authorities were cautious, with extreme temperatures and winds forecast over the weekend.

Read More: Gascoyne bushfires burn for two weeks, killing livestock, destroying land and devastating

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