Four people that were reported missing have been accounted for after it was revealed the Parkerville bushfire has destroyed 49 homes and damaged several more.
Residents whose homes are confirmed lost will be escorted back to their premises tomorrow.
Fire authorities this morning completed their damage assessment of the fireground.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson has revealed 385 firefighters and more than 100 appliances battled the blaze.
Mr Gregson said their efforts saved as many as 450 homes, including all at Mt Helena, which DFES fire modelling showed was under serious threat if firefighters had been unable to bring the blaze under control.
Mr Gregson had said that it was possible that the four unaccounted for people were in the fire zone.
"It could well be that some individuals are victims of the fire," he said. "We need to make sure that we are absolutely clear about that, that we cover off on what may or may not have happened."
Acting Premier Kim Hames thanked firefighters, police, Western Power and other emergency responders for their efforts, while announcing the Government would donate $1 million to the Lord Mayor's disaster relief fund.
Immediate State disaster relief payments of $3000 for people whose homes have been destroyed and $1000 for people whose homes have been damaged are available.
Dr Hames urged West Australians who wanted to help the fire victims to donate to the fund, saying cash was more valuable than donated food or goods.
Donations can be made at any Bankwest branch, at the Council House or by calling 9461 3886 during business hours.Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis admitted he was frustrated that some property owners appeared to be unprepared for the bushfire threat despite months of warnings and an expensive public advertising campaign.
"Everyone here, looking at the journos around this crowd, must be sick of hearing me say, 'Are you ready', go to the website ... download the brochure, go through the checklist," he said.
"A lot of homeowners have done that ... But you know what, some people don't. You live in a bushfire risk area. You've got to take some responsibility.
"Having said that, that doesn't help the 46 people who have now lost their homes."
Hundreds of people who attended a community meeting this morning were told by Department of Fire and Emergency Services commander Stuart Wade that it was still too dangerous to allow people to return.
About 70 per cent of the fire zone had been assessed, he said.
Supt Wade told a community briefing at 4pm that the count of homes destroyed had increased to 49.
He said 85 per cent of the blaze had been trapped, and the fire was contained but with a few pockets of hot spots.
He said favourable weather conditions would help firefighters consolidate containment lines in the coming days.
Supt Wade revealed a resident who tried to return to the fire zone suffered burns and had to be rescued by firefighters. He urged people not to return to their fire zone without permission.Mr Gregson said he understood residents' frustration at having to wait to return but said the area had to be 100 per cent safe.He said the State had faced "catastrophic" fire conditions over the weekend, with authorities dealing with 200 fires."The damage caused by the fire was awful and I feel very sorry for those people who have lost their homes," Mr Gregson said. "But it could have been an awful lot worse. There were over 400 residential dwellings in the (path of) the front of the fire.
The intensity of the fire was such that it was unassailable from the front. "Firefighters worked particularly hard on the flanks and then finally brought it under control."Mr Gregson said authorities were working as quickly as possible to let people back into their homes but they still had to make the fireground 100 per cent safe. He appealed for patience.
The State Government said it would donate $1m to the Lord Mayor's distress fund, established today to aid victims of the fire.Fire crews are still battling the dangerous blaze, which has burned through 650ha, with 20m-high flames and spot fires starting more than 3km ahead of the fire front.Cdr Wade said that while the fire was contained there were still some pockets where it was not controlled. In these areas it was still dangerous for police and firefighters.A bushfire watch and act has been issued for eastern part of Parkerville, Stoneville and Mount Helena in the Shire of Mundaring.There is still a possible threat to lives and homes. The fire is contained but not controlled.A bushfire advice remains for people in the northern part of Mundaring and Sawyers Valley and the western part Chidlow in the Shire of Mundaring and the western part of Gidgegannup in the City of Swan.
Although there is no immediate danger for people in these areas you need to be aware and keep up to date.Hundreds of residents fled their homes before authorities warned that the fire was too dangerous for people to leave, urging them to seek shelter inside their homes.Brian Laing had only just moved into his Homeswest property in the Hills when he was forced to flee from a raging bushfire.A few days after securing the Stoneville property, he found himself living out of a makeshift evacuation centre, certain his home had been destroyed.“I’d be surprised if the place is still there,” he said.“It’s brick and tile so maybe the walls are still standing but that’s probably it.”The 48-year-old spent last night at the Brown Park Recreation Complex in Swan View with his son Brillan, 17, and Emily Earl, 19.Brillan had managed to save his guitar as the wall of flames approached, but his father was left with nothing but the clothes on his back.“We just got the place through Homeswest. It’s horrible. It’s been a really hard year,” he said.“We’d just moved the last of our stuff in there so now we’ve got nothing. Apparently we don’t have to wait for another house though.”He said the fire had escalated far quicker than he thought possible.“We could see the smoke coming from Parkerville and I thought, ‘Well, we better keep an eye on that,’” he said.“We went back out the front and there were embers and ash was falling like snow and I thought, ‘Nah, we better get out of here.’“When we got home about 11.30am, you could see the smoke and within half an hour it was on us.”At the Swan View evacuation centre this morning a Beechboro woman sobs into a mobile phone, unsure whether her precious family home is still standing.The woman, who only wished to be quoted as Ms Crawford, said the Stonefield property on Bentley Street was not one of those shown in smouldering ruins on television news broadcasts last night.“I’m going up the hill with my brother when it’s safe (to see the damage),” she said. “My dad spent all day yesterday getting horses out of all these properties, his daughter’s property and other properties around. “We just don’t know at this point (if the house is still standing).”Tony Bradfield, who has lived on Hawdon Street in Stoneville for 12 years, said the family dog and cat were missing. Mr Bradfield spent last night at the evacuation centre trying to gather any information he could.His wife and two children remained with his mother in Mandurah.“I’m expecting (to come home to nothing),” Mr Bradfield said. “I said that to my wife last night. I said just expect the worst.”
Mundaring shire president Helen Dullard said the community was devastated but had rallied to help one another."I feel very moved witnessing the sadness and disappointment, even the loss of animals and precious things that people have had to leave behind," she said."But the community spirit has kicked in and this will see us all through."People have offered their homes for accommodation, food has been coming in all afternoon. It's been wonderful."Last night, hundreds of people all over Perth used social media to offer everything from their spare rooms to paddocks for livestock, clothes, bedding and furniture.Arson squad officers believe they found the fire ignition point at a private property on Johnson Road. It is believed the blaze was sparked by a fallen power pole.
There are many private powerlines in the semi-rural areas around Parkerville, in addition to Western Power's lines.The private lines are connected to Western Power's main distribution lines but their maintenance is the responsibility of individual landowners, who could be liable for any damage caused by a failure to properly maintain them.Authorities promised to let those whose homes were destroyed know personally of the losses.Evacuation centres were overflowing as hundreds of residents and their pets who were forced to leave the Hills suburbs.Many residents had fled their homes with little more than what they were wearing.