Firefighters have managed to slow the spread of a dangerous bushfire burning north of Perth. Still, authorities fear the upcoming extreme weather conditions will impede efforts to bring it under control.
The Red Gully blaze which has been burning since Saturday Jan. 2 now has a perimeter of more than 100 kilometres and destroyed over 9500 hectares in the Gingin and Dandaragan shires.
An emergency warning remains for local communities around the two shires, with major concerns for Ocean Farms Estate residents.
Authorities urge residents to enact their bushfire plans and evacuate immediately if safe to do so.
Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said the efforts of firefighters and aerial support managed to halt the western flank of the fire about three kilometres from Ocean Farms Estate.
But he said the extreme heat and wind conditions are a devastating combination which could result in small fires going out of control.
“This week’s weather conditions are some of the most challenging firefighting conditions I have seen in many years, and unfortunately, weather conditions are not easing over the coming days, in fact, they are only going to get worse,” Klemm said in a statement.
There have been no reported incidents of homes lost. However, pine plantations and olive groves are believed to have been damaged.
Around 200 firefighters are battling the blaze with aerial support, including two large air tankers flown in from Victoria.
Nine fires were burning on Wednesday and conditions across those areas are expected to remain very hot until a cool wind change on Sunday.
“These conditions are not something we’ve seen for the last two or three years,” Klemm said in a press conference.
“There hasn’t been that typical strong easterly weather that we’ve been experiencing the last four days with gusts of up to 80 kilometres an hour.
“It makes it incredibly difficult for firefighters. Not only is it not safe to put firefighters at the head of the fire in those types of circumstances but it’s also incredibly difficult once fire hops over, to be able to get around and put it out,” he said.
Watch and act warnings are in place for the fires near Indian Ocean Drive, Yanchep Pine Plantation, and Yeal Nature Reserve and for people near Lancelin and Ledge Point. Residents are advised to closely follow fire warnings in case of sudden changes in conditions.