Firefighter in WA
Residents have been urged to leave their homes in an area north of Perth if the way is clear. Image by HANDOUT/DFES
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More homes destroyed as hot winds fan bushfire threat

Jacob Shteyman January 15, 2024

Two homes have been destroyed as firefighters battle challenging conditions to beat back dangerous blazes raging in Western Australia.

An emergency warning early on Monday for Bindoon, Breera, Gingin, Lennard Brook, Mooliabeenee and Moondah, 60km north of Perth, was downgraded to a watch an act during the afternoon after crews contained the fire.

But WA’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned there was still a threat to lives and homes because the fire was still uncontrolled and conditions were changing.

“If you are not prepared or you plan to leave, leave now if the way is clear,” the DFES said.

DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm said 90 rapid damage assessments had been conducted, revealing two homes had been lost and another home was damaged.

“A further nine outbuildings and sheds have also been destroyed and six have received varying levels of damage,” he told reporters.

Days of extreme temperatures cracking 42C have turned the steep and thickly-wooded landscape into a tinderbox.

Mr Klemm said the fires are believed to have been sparked by lightning strikes over the weekend.

Favourable weather conditions overnight enabled fire crews to make significant progress but conditions worsened throughout the day. 

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Mr Klemm said.

“The trough is expected to linger for several days with hot, dry and windy conditions before it clears the state to the east.

“The storm cells over large parts of the south-west land division could potentially result in dry lightning strikes again and it is vital that everyone in those affected areas remains vigilant.” 

Gingin Shire president Wayne Fewster said the town – which remained in a bushfire advice zone – was comfortable but alert. 

While there was no immediate danger, residents were told to to be aware and keep up to date in case the situation changes. 

DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm
 DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm blamed the fires on lightning strikes. Image by Justin Benson-Cooper/AAP PHOTOS 

An evacuation centre was opened at the recreation grounds in Gingin and a community meeting was broadcast on the Shire of Gingin Facebook page.

As the battle to control the blaze entered its third day, crews were stretched and fatigued, Cr Fewster told ABC Radio.

About 280 firefighters and support crew were working to strengthen containment lines with machinery and aerial support, including a large air tanker.

The fire has burnt about 2900 hectares of land since its outbreak on Saturday morning.

To the southwest of the region, a fire burning near Bambun, Muchea, Pinjar, Yanchep and Yeal, was downgraded from a watch and act to an advice level after crews contained the blaze.

The fire had burnt about 2500 hectares.

The Bureau of Meteorology expected severe heatwave conditions to persist into the week across much of the state, including Perth and the rest of the southwest. 

Total fire bans were in place for much of Perth’s outskirts, including the Shires of Gingin and Chittering, as well as the District of Karratha and parts of the state’s southwest.