Wheatbelt town left without store during COVID-19 after suspicious fire

Photo: Leigh Strange.
Photo: Leigh Strange.

A small Wheatbelt town is facing the 'biggest challenge of its lifetime' after its only grocery store was destroyed by a fire that was believed to be deliberately lit.

It comes after the store was raided by out of town shoppers the fortnight prior, leaving residents without access to their usual essential goods.

Emergency services were called to Masons Shopping Centre in Bruce Rock about 9pm on Wednesday.

Read more

The blaze destroyed the premises, causing more than $500,000 in damage.

Police have taken a man in for questioning.

As a result, locals have been left without access to essential food items, with the next closest grocery store 50km away in 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."

A makeshift store has been established at the local town hall with donations of fresh vegetables delivered to the doors of residents on Friday afternoon.