WA Wheatbelt town Bruce Rock left without store during COVID-19 crisis after suspicious fire

Photo: Leigh Strange.
Photo: Leigh Strange.

Your small town more than three hours' drive from a major centre had one grocery store. It burnt down in a fire thought to have been deliberately lit. What next?

That is exactly the scenario facing the 700-strong community of Bruce Rock in Western Australia.

And if that wasn't enough all this comes in the time of COVID-19. Just a fortnight after the small Wheatbelt town was raided by out-of-town shoppers the fortnight prior, leaving residents without access to their usual essential goods.

Police are questioning a man after a fire ripped through Masons Shopping Centre in Bruce Rock about 9pm on Wednesday. Damage is estimated at $500,000.

This is the biggest challenge Bruce Rock has had to face in our lifetime.

Stephen Strange, shire president

To get the most basic of items the small community must drive 50km to Merredin.

Shire of Bruce Rock president Stephen Strange has described the incident as yet another blow to the small community of 700 people, as they continue to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

"First and foremost our thoughts are with the Mason family with their long business history serving our community," he said.

"The council is currently working towards a plan to seek provision of essential food services back into Bruce Rock.

"We have been coordinating with agencies, departments and members of Parliament to seek fast tracking of good to establish some form of shopping service.

"Even at this time, with the escalations of measures to slow coronavirus, decisions are being made quickly and while they have inconvenienced some, they have been in the community's safety.

"This is the biggest challenge Bruce Rock has had to face in our lifetime and everyone needs to step up and take responsibility for volunteering, if you are not at risk.

"I implore everyone to do their bit to reduce the risk to our community members and look after each other by engaging disciplined social distancing, good hygiene and just as importantly checking on your neighbours in town and on farms."

This story Life during COVID-19 - without a grocery store first appeared on The Avon Valley Advocate.