Authorities have warned residents in a marked incident area of an out of control bushfire in Perth’s east overnight that it is too late too leave and to do so now “would be deadly”.
Crews are struggling to contain the blaze which has left residents fleeing and at least 59 homes destroyed.
Residents have been warned they are in immediate danger as the bushfire rages, with the DFES (Department of Fire and Emergency Services) describing the conditions as “extreme”.
Those located within the marked Incident Area (the black shaded area within the map) below, “it’s too late to leave and leaving now would be deadly”.
More than 200 firefighters have been battling the massive blaze which has torn through the town of Wooroloo and affected the shires of Mundaring, Chittering, Northam and the City of Swan.
The blaze has doubled in size and is moving in a west – south westerly direction. It is out of control and unpredictable. Burning embers are also becoming problematic while spot fires are starting up to 100 metres ahead of the fire.
FOR EMERGENCY WARNINGS VISIT DFES OR CALL 133337
Strong winds have caused huge problems for crews on the ground and it could be days until the fire is contained. The fire was reported at midday on Monday and has been burning ever since. Currently there has been 9,189 hectares burnt. The cause of the fire is unknown.
220 firefighters on the scene, actively fighting the fire. Aerial support has been sent to protect crews and homes.
“You need to protect yourself and your family from the immediate danger of the bushfire first and foremost,” the DFES advised.
“Whether you are in lockdown or have been personally directed to quarantine for COVID-19, you must do whatever you need to do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.”
EMERGENCY WARNING REMAINS IN PLACE
An emergency warning remained for parts of The Vines, Bailup, Ellenbrook, Gidgegannup, Millendon, Walyunga National Park, Upper Swan, Aveley, Henley Brook, Avon Valley National Park, Red Hill, Belhus, Baskerville, Herne Hill, Bullsbrook, Wooroloo, and Brigadoon in the shires of Mundaring, Chittering, Northam and the City of Swan.
“You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes.
“You need to shelter in your home in a room away from the fire front and make sure you can easily escape.
“You must shelter before the fire arrives, as the extreme heat will kill you well before the flames reach you.
“Close all doors and windows and turn off evaporative air conditioners, but keep water running through the system if possible.
“Choose a room with two exits and water such as a kitchen or laundry.
“If your home catches on fire and the conditions inside become unbearable, you need to get out and go to an area that has already been burnt.
“Protect yourself by wearing long sleeves and trousers, made from cotton or wool, and strong leather boots.
For those residents on the northern side of the Incident Area, travel northwest, away from the fire.
For people in the remainder of the Emergency Warning area, if you are not prepared or you plan to leave, leave now if the way is clear by travelling in a west/south westerly direction.
The Department of Communities has set up the following evacuation centres:
Brown Park Recreation Complex on Amherst Road, near the intersection of Salisbury Road, in Swan View.
Swan Active Midland – 16 Gray Dr, Midvale WA 6056.
Swan Active Beechboro – 332 Benara Road, Beechboro.
59 HOMES LOST ALREADY
It is understood there are around 160 homes in that area. Authorities confirmed 59 homes have officially been confirmed as lost, with 15-20 of them located outside the rural estate.
There has been no recorded loss of life.
The news was confirmed by Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan, who praised fire and emergency authorities for continuing to battle the fire and said the “extremely dangerous” and out of control blaze was still threatening homes and lives.
“This is an extremely concerning and serious situation,” said Mr McGowan on Tuesday
“The thoughts of all West Australians are with the people impacted.
“DFES (Department of Fire and Emergency Services) advise they have lost 80 per cent of all properties in the rural area of Tilden Park in Gidgegannup (and) will be conducting inquiries in an attempt to establish whether there has been any loss of life.
“Right now, WA is battling two different kinds of emergencies. A dangerous fire emergency and a COVID-19 lockdown emergency.”
Western Power have advised that a number of areas are affected by power outages with at least 2000 homes affected.
Deputy Commissioner at Department of Fire and Emergency Services Craig Waters warned residents: “We’re not out of the woods by any shape … we haven’t got this fire controlled or contained at this stage.
“It’s going to take a huge effort from everyone involved to get this under control.”
Speaking this evening, DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm confirmed 56 homes had been lost in the Wooloroo fire.He later confirmed three more had been added to the ally.
“Our rapid damage assessment teams have been through a large part of the incident with still some more to go, but at this time I can tell you that 56 homes have been lost. It is terrible news for the owners of those homes, and our thoughts are with them all,” he said.
“A process now will be undertaken. DFES will assist local governments to work through a process to notify those homeowners of the loss of those homes. The rapid damage assessment team will continue.
“The work they have done today, that will continue this afternoon and tomorrow. There is a likelihood that the number of homes lost will increase once that work has been completed.”
Commissioner Klemm said to his knowledge, there had been no deaths reported and no injuries to members of the public, although six firefighters have received minor injuries.
Earlier today, Mr McGowan said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison had been briefed on the unfolding disaster and said his state was now “battling two different kinds of emergencies” – the bushfire and a coronavirus outbreak which plunged WA into a snap, five-day lockdown.
The DFES has issued a bushfire emergency warning for people in parts of The Vines, Bailup, Ellenbrook, Gidgegannup, Millendon, Walunga National park, Upper Swan, Aveley, Henley Brook, Avon Valley National Park, Red Hill, Belhus, Baskerville, Herne Hill, Bullsbrook, Wooroloo, Brigadoon in the Shires of Mundaring, Chittering and Northam and the City of Swan.
“You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes,” the alert, issued this afternoon, warns.
The fire has been worsened by weather conditions as wind gusts spread the blaze in the Perth hills, with a large aerial tanker being brought in from NSW Rural Fire Service to assist.
Many locals have fled to an evacuation being managed by the Department of Communities, with residents receiving an early morning text message alerting them to the unfolding situation.
The DFES also issued a smoke alert for people located from Joondalup to Fremantle, with ash and smoky haze seen across Perth.
DFES photographer Evan Collis has also taken a series of harrowing photos showing the extent of the disaster on the ground as firefighters battle to contain the flames.
While authorities are beginning the process of notifying the owners of homes destroyed in the blaze, some have already discovered the news.
Wooroloo local Elaine Palfrey is one of them, with a friend setting up a GoFundMe to help her family after they “lost everything”.
“Elaine spent so long trying to find the perfect bush retreat for her little family and had made a little oasis in the country and has only been in the home for a couple of months. To say she is devastated is an absolute understatement and I will admit I did have a little cry for her after speaking with her this evening,” organiser Renee Dahl wrote.
“Elaine and family will be starting from scratch – remember how hard that was? You need EVERYTHING!!!!
“We need to help her start somewhere and the less stuff she has to think about right now the better.”