Western Power is facing a major rebuild of its Western Australian electricity network after bushfires tore through power poles in Waroona.

Crews have been granted access to the fire zone and early assessments of the damage have determined more than 1000 power poles have been damaged or destroyed.

Executive Manager, Asset Operations at Western Power, David Fyfe, said as large as the task ahead is, Western Power is well prepared and has spent considerable time planning to ensure they were ready to respond as soon as the area was declared safe.

“This will not be a quick restoration but our crews have all the skills and equipment needed to return the network to full capacity as safely and as quickly as possible,” Mr Fyfe said.

Western Power sent 80 trucks and more than 140 trained personnel to Waroona to begin preparing for the restoration work.

Fifty trucks were sent from the Jandakot depot with another 30 coming from surrounding regional depots including Picton, near Bunbury.

Mr Fyfe said this is just the start of the rebuild efforts.

“Now that we have an indication of the full extent we will mobilise more manpower and expertise to reconnect customers as safely and as quickly as possible. Rebuilding the network is expected to take a prolonged effort.

“To put it into perspective the fire area is the size of metropolitan Perth. This restoration will be three times larger than any other event we have ever dealt with before,” Mr Fyfe said.

Western Power’s operational teams will attend community forums in bushfire affected areas to answer any questions customers may have around restoration of power supply. They will continue to work in conjunction with local shire authorities and outside agencies to priorities reconnection efforts.

Western Power emergency generators are being used to power Waroona and Preston Beach until power can be restored. Crews are continuing to work closely with DFES personnel who are responsible for clearing debris from the area.

Jessica Dickers

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