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WA premier urged to sack minister over bush fires

Western Australian premier Colin Barnett is being urged to sack his environment minister over disastrous bush fires that ravaged Margaret River last week.

The fire spread out of control on Wednesday from a prescribed burn started by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park on 6 September that reignited last Monday.

Premier Colin Barnett says the fire spread was an accident and it should not be a case of laying blame on anyone.

But the state opposition has called for Barnett to dismiss environment minister Bill Marmion if he doesn’t stand down over the mistake.

Opposition environment spokeswoman Sally Talbot called for Marmion’s resignation or dismissal because of his responsibility for the mistake and his “woeful response” to the fire. “The buck stops with the minister and it’s time for him to go,” she said.

Wineries had to be evacuated and vines were ravaged in the devastating fires.

At least five vineyards around Margaret River were evacuated, including Leeuwin Estate, Voyager Estate, Xanadu Wines, Cape Mentelle, and Redgate Wines.

Nick Power of the Margaret River Wine Association told journalists the fire had mainly destroyed national park land, and that none of the larger wineries were at risk, though smoke damage may be a consideration.

The main blaze took hold last Wednesday near the towns of Gnarabup and Prevelly on the coast to the west of Margaret River. Some 30 homes have been destroyed.

About 4,000ha of the Mt Lindesay National Park to the southeast of Margaret River were also burnt. No one has been reported injured in the fires.

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