Perth Hills bushfire destroys 30 homes

An out-of-control bushfire raging near Perth’s northeast has destroyed at least 30 homes, with authorities checking if lives have been lost in one badly hit area.

Feb 02, 2021, updated Feb 02, 2021
Multiple homes have been destroyed by the massive fire in the Perth Hills. Photo: ABC

Multiple homes have been destroyed by the massive fire in the Perth Hills. Photo: ABC

Authorities checking if lives have been lost in one badly hit area.

The massive blaze with a 75km perimeter raged through the night near the hills town of Wooroloo before moving west onto the city’s coastal plain where it was threatening homes in the northern suburbs.

Temperatures are expected to reach 37C today with hot easterly winds forecast packing gusts up to 65 km/h.

Premier Mark McGowan said 80 per cent of all properties in a rural suburb near Gidgegannup had been lost.

“(Firefighters) will be conducting inquiries at the Tilden Park fire scene this morning in an attempt to establish where there has been any loss of life,” he told reporters.

McGowan said a large aerial tanker was en route from NSW to help firefighters and he had briefed the prime minister on the blaze.

“This is an extremely dangerous fire and a serious situation. Weather conditions are extremely volatile,” he said.

“Please do everything you can to keep you and your family safe and look after each other.”

Earlier, Swan mayor Kevin Bailey said more than 30 homes were believed to have been destroyed.

“The fire has now come down out of the hills towards the flat part of the plains, so there’s an awful lot of smoke through the northern suburbs,” he told the ABC.

People in Perth’s CBD and coastal suburbs are reporting ash landing at their homes, up to 35km from the blaze.

Operations at RAAF Base Pearce – which is in the path of the fire – have been suspended and preparations are being made to evacuate.

Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services has updated its emergency warning for the blaze, which has burned through 7,366 hectares.

People in a 25km stretch west from Wooroloo to the Walyunga National Park northeast of Perth have been told it is too late to leave.

“You must shelter before the fire arrives, as the extreme heat will kill you well before the flames reach you,” the latest warning said.

Jenni Stanton, 59, received a text about 2am telling her to evacuate from her home at The Vines, which is about a kilometre from the blaze.

But she and her husband decided to stay put, saying the roads out of the semi-rural suburb in Perth’s north were bumper-to-bumper with traffic.

“The fire has jumped the Great Northern Highway west of Walyunga, so it’s closer to us now,” she told AAP mid-morning.

“The yard is covered in ash and we can hear the water bombers.”

Neighbour Melissa Stahl, 49, received the same text.

“I could smell the fire and went out the back and the whole yard was filled with smoke,” she said. “My husband Michael said we better go. We grabbed bedding, photos, the two kids and the dog and got out of there.”

Meanwhile, surrounding areas including Parkerville, Ellenbrook, Chidlow and Jane Brook have been told to leave if they are not prepared to fight the blaze.

Evacuation centres have been set up at the Brown Park Recreation Complex in Swan View and Swan Active in Midland.

Kira Rutter, 21, fled her home in Ellenbrook about 3am to Brown Park.

She said there were up to 300 people at the centre.

“Everyone is wearing masks and social distancing and we’re a really supportive little community at the moment,” she said.

“But I’m getting a bit anxious now, the smoke has started to reach here.”

DFES said anyone forced to leave their homes should wear a mask and continue to follow social distancing precautions to comply with Western Australia’s current COVID-19 health regulations.

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