Strong winds to hamper WA bushfire battle

Michael Ramsey
·2-min read

"Incredibly strong" winds are set to hamper efforts to contain a devastating bushfire in the Perth Hills that has destroyed 86 homes.

No further properties were lost overnight but West Australian officials on Friday confirmed five more burnt-out homes were identified.

Hopes are high that forecast weekend rain will help firefighters get on top of the week-long blaze as a tropical low tracks towards the southwest.

But weary firefighters are set to face their toughest challenge with conditions forecast to worsen before they get better.

"We are expecting incredibly strong winds - stronger than we've had already - tomorrow ahead of that tropical low," Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm told reporters.

"At this time, we're being advised that we will see rain on or about the fire ground at approximately 11am tomorrow. But between now and then, we have still got the challenges of these really strong winds.

"There is no letting up here. And, you know, I want to make the point - the rain is not guaranteed either. So, our planning is still continuing, should that rain not occur."

Efforts to allow some residents to return home are continuing with areas east of Toodyay Road set to open up from 4pm on Friday.

Firefighters have worked overtime to clear damage from seriously affected areas, including fallen powerlines, while also dealing with flare-ups on the northern flank of the bushfire.

Estimates of properties lost in the city's northeast started at 56 on Tuesday morning. By Wednesday the number had grown to 71 before rising again.

"Absolutely devastating outcome for the owners of those homes," Mr Klemm said.

"Our thoughts are absolutely with them. The whole emergency services family, we stand with them and acknowledge the difficulties that they are going through."

Emergency alerts remain in place with people bound by Clenton Road, O'Brien Road and Ewing Road warned there is still uncontained fire activity.

"If you plan to leave, leave now if the way is clear by travelling in a direction away from the fire," DFES said.

"You must shelter before the fire arrives as the extreme heat will kill you well before the flames reach you."

Premier Mark McGowan on Friday described the damage as "devastating".

"The people whose homes have been destroyed or severely damaged, we're all thinking of you" he said.

"And the firefighters who've put themselves in danger to protect the community, thank you so much."