At least seventy-one homes have been destroyed in the raging wildfires near Perth, Western Australia, authorities say. The blaze has ravaged large swathes of land in the Perth Hills area and the flames are advancing towards more densely populated areas of the nation’s fourth largest city. No fatalities or serious injuries have been reported so far, but six firefighters have been slightly affected.
More than 200 firefighters still work tirelessly in extreme terrain and conditions in Wooroloo #bushfire. The erratic behavior of the fire fanned by strong winds continues to challenge frontline teams who are protecting what they can and putting in containment lines. #perthfires pic.twitter.com/7NUTLz0IWU
– DFES (@dfes_wa) February 2, 2021
“For people who have lost their homes, it is just appalling. Our thoughts are with them, ”said Darren Klemm, the fire chief of Western Australia.
Several emergency alerts have been issued as the situation is expected to worsen with strong gusts of wind forecast for Wednesday that risk stoking the flames. The mercury is likely to reach 35 degrees Wednesday. Authorities are hoping for a drop in temperatures and rainfall at the end of the week.
Call to ignore containment
Perth entered a five-day containment phase on Sunday due to the discovery of the first case of local transmission of the coronavirus in ten months in the state of Western Australia. About two million people in Perth and the neighboring regions of Peel and the South West have to stay in their homes.
The return to school scheduled for Monday has been postponed. Residents can only leave their homes if their work is “essential”, to run errands, play sports or go to the doctor.
As the flames approached more populated areas, Darren Klemm urged the threatened residents to no longer heed the containment order.
More than 3.5 million hectares gone up in smoke in 2020
Hundreds of people have fled the area since Monday and many have taken refuge in evacuation centers. Among them, Peter Lavis, 68, who evacuated Monday after seeing the flames set ablaze the landscape, “as if a bomb had exploded”.
Smoke darkened the sky over Perth, about 30 kilometers west of the fires, which destroyed nearly 10,000 hectares. “It was just scorched earth. Even where I was, behind the fire, it was still burning, because the teams had to react so quickly, ”Mayor Kevin Bailey told public broadcaster ABC.
Last year, more than 3.5 million hectares were burnt in Western Australia during a particularly devastating forest fire season. But the state had not been so hard hit materially as those of New South Wales and Victoria (south-west).
To continue reading:
The fires come back every austral summer in Australia. But they are more and more virulent due to various phenomena linked to global warming. The increase in temperature, the increase in heat waves and the drop in precipitation in places is therefore an ideal combination for the development of fires.