Hundreds of Australians have fled to evacuation centres as a bushfire on the outskirts of the Covid-19 locked-down city of Perth continues to grow and threaten communities.
The blaze – the largest the city has seen in years – has burnt through 9,000 hectares, destroying 81 homes. Six firefighters have suffered injuries.
Fire services were expecting further challenging conditions on Wednesday, 3 February.
The Western Australia capital, Perth, is in the middle of a coronavirus lockdown, complicating safety advice messages for Perth’s two million residents.
State officials have urged people to prioritise their immediate safety over the virus risk, which is considered very low.
‘The important thing is the preservation of life. So, if you’re quarantining and you’re required to evacuate, you should just evacuate,’ said WA fire commissioner Darren Klemm.
The Wooroloo fire, which started on Monday, has a 100km perimeter and is burning about 30km east of central Perth.
Strong winds on Tuesday caused it to spread rapidly and made it ‘near impossible’ for firefighters to suppress, official said. Embers were reported 5km ahead of the fire front.
The winds were forecast to return to highs of 75km/hr later on Wednesday, potentially driving the already ‘erratic’ blaze to new populated areas.
Perth has endured days of temperatures over 30°C as well as extended dry conditions.
On Wednesday, WA Premier Mark McGowan said the state faced an unprecedented situation: ‘A full lockdown and raging bushfires. It will test us all.’
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