A 31,000 hectare (76,600 acre) bushfire has forced the evacuation of several communities south of Perth in Western Australia. The fire is moving in a southwesterly direction through the areas of Waroona, Harvey, Lake Clifton, Yarloop, and Preston Beach. (map)
On Friday the forecast includes 60 km/hr (37 mph) winds out of the northeast.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned that for several areas it was too late for residents to leave and they should shelter in their homes. Some people in Preston Beach waded into the Indian Ocean where they were taken on board boats.
The DFES reported that the fire, unofficially called the Waroona Fire, is being fought by over 200 firefighters, 48 appliances, and 25 heavy machines. Air tankers and helicopters have also been assigned.
DFES Incident Controller Greg Mair said the South Western Highway could be closed for a few weeks because a wooden bridge at Samson Brook had sustained severe damage.
The lightning caused fire was reported at 7:25 a.m. on January 6. In the area where it crossed Forrest Highway there was a report that the flame height was 50 meters (164 feet).