Two homes are destroyed and two men have been injured as out-of-control bushfires challenge firefighters in Western Australia
Five emergency-level blazes have torn through bushland, rural properties and the suburb of Parkerville in Perth’s hilly east in the past 48 hours.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said fire crews faced “intense fire behaviour” driven by strong easterly winds.
“There will be no reprieve overnight as we’re expecting low humidity tonight and gusty conditions again,” he told reporters late on Thursday from the Parkerville fireground.
“We have sadly, we have had some reports of homes and our buildings damaged.
“I can’t confirm that at this point … there have been two homes that have been completely lost (in Parkerville).”
Social media footage of the Parkerville blaze showed a home engulfed by flames and thick smoke as water bombers attacked from above.
Paramedics transported two men in their 60s to a hospital, one with burns and the other with an injury to his foot, and a firefighter suffered heat stress.
Mr Klemm said a fire started accidentally when a tree fell onto powerlines and it was possible more damaged homes and property would be found.
“The winds have been incredibly strong for the last 24 hours,” Mr Klemm said.
The fire, 34km east of the Perth CBD, was downgraded to watch and act late on Thursday.
Authorities warned it was contained but not controlled.
A fire 60km northeast in the Shire of Toodyay has returned to emergency level as an out-of-control blaze “jumped” containment lines.
An emergency warning has also been issued for residents in the Shire of Dardanup, 180km south of Perth, after a bushfire that started two days ago flared up.
The blaze is “out of control and unpredictable” and moving fast in a northwesterly direction, with authorities warning residents “embers are likely to be blown around your home”.
Forrest Highway is closed in both directions and an evacuation centre has been opened at Eaton Recreation Centre.
The Toodyay fire in the Wheatbelt region started on Wednesday afternoon and tore through about 155 hectares of vegetation before being downgraded on Thursday morning.
It was upgraded late on Thursday, with authorities warning it was moving fast in a west-northwesterly direction and it was too late to leave for some residents.
“We have a significant amount of resources out there, as well as aircraft, helping to bring that breakout under control,” Mr Klemm said.
Firefighters also continue to battle a blaze in the Shire of Manjimup in the state’s southwest, which was also downgraded on Thursday.
Light rain has started falling in the area but residents have been warned the blaze remains out of control and continues to pose a threat.
The fire has burned about 3000 hectares of vegetation and there have been reports of damage to sheds, fences and farm equipment.
“It is burning in some very dense old-growth forest and this fire could continue and we’re expecting it to continue for the next several days.” Mr Klemm said.
Mr Klemm said he would meet with fire commissioners in other states on Friday to discuss whether interstate teams would be needed to help battle the fires.
“We haven’t got a great forecast, particularly the next three or four days,” he said.
“Certainly from here through to Boxing Day we’re going to have some really challenging conditions across … the southern half of the state.”
Another bushfire that threatened the fishing town of Lancelin, 126km north of Perth, late on Wednesday was declared contained and controlled early on Thursday morning.