'Too late to leave': Confronting warning for residents as fires rage

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read

At least 70 homes have been lost in a bushfire burning out of control in Perth's northeastern suburbs, with more property losses expected.

The massive fire doubled in size on Monday night and approached the city's coastal plain from the hills town of Wooroloo, as firefighters desperately tried to save lives and homes.

Western Australia's Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said the number of homes lost is likely to climb.

"Tragically, 59 properties have been lost in this fire, and that number may increase as we continue to assess the extent of the damage," he said late on Tuesday.

The number has since jumped to 71 but no deaths have been recorded.

DFES fire fighters pictured battling a blaze in Brigadoon, Perth.
Crews battle a blaze in Brigadoon, Perth on Tuesday. Source: AAP

He said crews had faced "a difficult and incredibly fast-moving" blaze that was spotting 3.5 kilometres ahead of the fire front at its peak on Monday night. The fire has already burned through more than 9000 hectares.

Mr Klemm added the northern flank of the fire would come under pressure on Wednesday, with particular concern for Shady Hills Estate to Perth's northeast.

"We're going to see gusts to 70km/h in that northwest corner of the fire there," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"Really difficult terrain, really steep terrain, and the message to the people in Shady Hills Estate and the outskirts of Bullsbrook is they need to enact their bushfire plan and consider whether they need to evacuate now.

"We're into day three of this fire today and it's going to continue to be a challenging fire for us for at least the next three or four or five days."

Residents told it’s ‘too late to leave’

People in a 25km stretch west from Wooroloo to the Walyunga National Park northeast of Perth have been told “it is too late to leave”.

Residents in surrounding areas of the emergency warning zone, and who are not prepared to fight the fire, have been urged to leave now.

Fire burns on a hill at Wooroloo, near Perth.
A hill at Wooroloo on fire. Source: AAP

Some 2000 residents and businesses were left without power on Tuesday afternoon.

Around 150 poles and 100 transformers were down in the fire scar area, Western Power said.

The state's electricity provider was not able to safely access the fire ground to repair the damaged infrastructure and restore power, but was working with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to remove damaged power lines and poles.

Fire crews control bush fires as they approach properties on Copley Road in Upper Swan in Perth, Australia.
Crews attend to fires on Copley Road in Upper Swan. Source: Getty Images

Premier Mark McGowan said firefighters would continue to check destroyed homes in the rural suburb of Tilden Park to check if any lives had been lost.

"This is an extremely dangerous fire and a serious situation. Weather conditions are extremely volatile," the premier said on Tuesday.

"Please do everything you can to keep you and your family safe and look after each other."

Evacuation centres have been set up at the Brown Park Recreation Complex in Swan View, Swan Active in Midland and Swan Active in Beechboro.

People in Perth's CBD and coastal suburbs have reported ash landing at their homes, up to 35km from the blaze.

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