Residents in the Great Southern and southern Wheatbelt are counting the costs of blackouts after an “unusual” number of pole top fires left homes without power. The fires have left local community leaders calling for an investigation into the fires and questioning the reliability of mobile phone coverage. At least 260 properties stretching from the outskirts of Wagin to Lake King were affected by power poles catching alight after rain across the region on Monday last week. The fires left the Dumbleyung townsite without power for 36 hours, according to Shire president Julie Ramm. She said the blackout had a substantial impact on the community. “The (Dumbleyung) General Store had to chuck out everything and restock because the power was out for so long,” Ms Ramm said. “When the store is restocking, everyone else is trying to restock as well. Then those people have to go out of town to restock, so it is a double hit.” Ms Ramm said the length of the power outage prompted some residents to go to farming properties which still had grid power or backup generators for a shower. Dumbleyung bushfire control officer Dale Lloyd said pole top fires were known to occur when light rain came after a dry spell, but the number of fires last week was “unusual”. “I know of at least seven in the Shire and there were others outside the Shire our crews were also sent to,” he said. Compounding the problem for firefighters was a lack of mobile phone coverage. “We use all WhatsApp for fire control,” Ms Ramm said. “There were messages going out saying there were fires but people weren’t aware as there was no power and no telecommunications. “It makes it a very dangerous environment. It can definitely turn back pretty quickly.” Mr Lloyd said it was fortunate the Shire’s bushfire radio network worked well during the power outage. “If the bushfire network has put in sufficient backup to last two days without power, why can’t Telstra do the same?” he said. Ms Ramm said the council was being proactive in resolving the issues. “We don’t know what has caused the fires, whether it is the insulators or the pine poles, but there needs to be an investigation,” she said. The council is in discussions with Telstra about problems with mobile phone coverage.