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Wildfire engulfs homes in Western Australia

By AFP

November 23, 2023 10:25 AM


Representational image

Australian firefighters Thursday battled a runaway bushfire that has incinerated 10 homes and forced scores of people to evacuate in the northern outskirts of Perth during a fierce heatwave.

Fire services issued emergency warnings for fire-swept areas north of the Western Australian capital, urging people to flee their homes if they can, or shelter in place if it is already too late to move.

More than 500 emergency workers backed by aircraft were trying to tame the out-of-control, fast-moving flames, which were being fanned by warm winds, officials said.

The blaze has destroyed 10 homes, four sheds and a number of vehicles including caravans, said Western Australia Deputy Premier Rita Saffioti.

"The forecast today is unforgiving," she told a news conference, predicting that thermometers would hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day.

"It is crucial now that everyone involved continues to be alert as this bushfire emergency continues to unfold. Today is a day that everyone has to stick together."

Firefighters in one truck struggled to navigate smoke-shrouded streets as red-hot embers flew through the air, television images showed.

At one point, they were confronted by trees engulfed in towering orange flames, just a few steps from the roadside pavement.

About 130 people including children who fled their homes had sheltered overnight at an evacuation centre, officials said.

Winds will create "significant fire weather" during the day before easing in the next 24-48 hours, said Darren Klemm, head of the state's Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

"It's going to take a number of days to bring this fire under control," he said.

Another 65 fires were burning across Western Australia, Klemm said.

Fires have been erupting around Perth as the city swelters in an Australian spring heatwave.

The previous day, helicopters dumped water on a fire raging near homes south of Perth, television images showed.

Some people in T-shirts, shorts, and sandals used garden hoses to try to extinguish flare-ups.


AFP


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