High school grad defends home

By Bree Swift and Leah Tindale
Updated February 15 2022 - 9:11am, first published February 11 2022 - 6:00am
More than 1000 personnel responded to the devastating bushfires across WA on the weekend, combatting fires that raged over more than 60,000 hectares. Photo by DFES incident photographer Evan Collis.

RECOVERING from a knee replacement at his sister's house in York, Yongerellen Red Poll cattle stud principal Murray Williams wasn't home when the Quairading fire spread to his property last Sunday.

Fortunately, his worker Ollie McLeary was, and according to Mr Williams he did an outstanding job, protecting the house and cattle, alongside all of the other bushfire volunteers that showed up to assist.

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"They saved my house, but how, I will never know," Mr Williams said.

About 30 per cent of the property was burnt by the fire, with three sheds, a few fuel tanks and some machinery destroyed.

Fortunately, Mr Williams said most of it was insured.

Having only turned 18 and recently graduated from Western Australian College of Agriculture, Cunderdin, at the end of last year, Mr McLeary was left with the huge responsibility of getting the cattle out of harm's way and protecting the house from the fire.

"I didn't have any sheep on the farm at the time, but Ollie brought all of the cattle into paddocks, so they are all a bit mixed up now, but to the best of my knowledge we didn't lose any," Mr Williams said.

"He only moved into a house at my place three weeks ago and he's lost that, that's gone.

"But he was there on his own while I was having my operation, so he has definitely been thrown in the deep end."

Yongerellen Red Poll cattle stud principal Murray Williams house, located about halfway between Quairading and Corrigin, was saved by worker Ollie McLeary, 18 and bushfire volunteers who showed up to assist.

With some of their water systems burnt, Mr Williams said his first job was making sure all of his cattle had feed and water while he goes about reconnecting their water supply.

"We will be carting water and putting it in troughs for a couple of days until we've got our poly pipes fixed etc, then we will be repairing some of our fences and sorting the livestock back to where they are supposed to be," Mr Williams said.

With a lot of trees burnt on the property, he said they were still falling on fences around the property.

Acknowledging the severity of the fire, Mr Williams said he felt extremely fortunate to have had so many offers of support from near and far.

"Hay has been donated from Beverley to help me out, and the community effort from far and wide to get there and put the fire out, and also follow up afterwards to ensure that it's all under control has been incredible," Mr Williams said.

"It's exactly the sort of response you want from your community."

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