At least 59 homes have been lost in a bushfire burning out of control in Perth’s northeastern suburbs, with more property losses expected.
The massive fire doubled in size on Monday night and approached the city’s coastal plain from the hills town of Wooroloo, as firefighters desperately tried to save lives and homes.
Western Australia’s Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said the number of homes lost is likely to climb.
“Tragically, 59 properties have been lost in this fire, and that number may increase as we continue to assess the extent of the damage,” he said late on Tuesday.
He said crews had faced “a difficult and incredibly fast-moving” blaze that was spotting 3.5 kilometres ahead of the fire front at its peak on Monday night. The fire has already burned through more than 9000 hectares.
Weather conditions were expected to worsen overnight, with the possibility of wind gusts up to 75km/h.
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.
Residents in surrounding areas of the emergency warning zone, and who are not prepared to fight the fire, have been urged to leave now.
Some 2000 residents and businesses were left without power on Tuesday afternoon. Around 150 poles and 100 transformers were down in the fire scar area, Western Power said.
The state’s electricity provider was not able to safely access the fireground to repair the damaged infrastructure and restore power, but was working with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to remove damaged power lines and poles.
Premier Mark McGowan said firefighters would continue to check destroyed homes in the rural suburb of Tilden Park to check if any lives had been lost.
“This is an extremely dangerous fire and a serious situation. Weather conditions are extremely volatile,” the premier said on Tuesday.
“Please do everything you can to keep you and your family safe and look after each other.”
Evacuation centres have been set up at the Brown Park Recreation Complex in Swan View, Swan Active in Midland and Swan Active in Beechboro.
People in Perth’s CBD and coastal suburbs have reported ash landing at their homes, up to 35km from the blaze.