WA’s regional firefighting units have faced their first major tests of the bushfire season with more than 800ha of crop destroyed by blazes in the past week. Three header fires in four days burned through an estimated combined 830ha of cropping land at Williams, in East Popanyinning and Tincurrin. All three fires were believed to have started within the vicinity of harvest machinery, with flames spreading through the paddocks and into surrounding scrub. The worst of the three blazes was at Warrening Gully Farm, near Williams on Zilco Road, which started about 1pm last Thursday and took five hours to control. The fire ripped through about 400ha of crop and part of a blue gum plantation, destroyed a header and chaff cart and damaged a volunteer firefighter’s ute. Infrastructure on the property, including a shed and the family home, which was just metres from the fire — was saved by firefighters. Shire of Williams chief bushfire control officer Geoff McKeown said there had been a “great response” from neighbouring shires to get “on top of the blaze”. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services sent two water bombers and a spotter plane from Bunbury. Three days later, another fire broke out in East Popanyinning, again caused by harvest machinery, which burnt through the paddock into surrounding scrub. The fire started about 1pm, and was contained in about 11/2 hours after burning through about 30ha of predominantly rocky bushland. Pingelly farmer John Hassell said the blaze was ignited after the header, driven by his son, George, hit some rocks near the edge of a paddock. “It has made us realise there are things we could do to fine-tune our operation. I think all farmers should do a fire drill. It could help drastically,” he said. The next afternoon, a header caught fire at Tincurrin, near the intersection of Tincurrin Road and Brown Road. The blaze was contained in a few hours. Crop damage was minimal after the fire tore through about 400ha of land that had already been harvested. But it destroyed the front of the header.