The BBC reports that two people have been found dead in a very large bushfire south of Perth in Southwestern Australia. Police say the bodies of two men in their 70s were discovered in the debris of burnt-out houses in the town of Yarloop. Most of the structures in the town were destroyed when the Waroona Bushfire, pushed by strong winds, raged through the community.
The blaze continues to spread and threaten populated areas, but less intensely now, with less extreme weather conditions. An emergency warning was issued at 10:51 a.m. local time on January 9 for the following locations: Hamel, Cookernup, Yarloop, Harvey, east of Waroona and the surrounding areas. It doesn’t include the Waroona townsite.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services reports that the fire has consumed 70,876 hectares (175,000 acres) and 143 homes and outbuildings. It is being fought by 250 firefighters, 50 appliances including 38 heavy machines, air tankers, and helicopters. The fire perimeter is more than 140 miles.
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Most of the homes in the Western Australia town of Yarloop were destroyed when a large bushfire marched through the area Thursday night.
Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Wayne Gregson said on Friday that 95 houses and numerous other public buildings burned, including the Steam Museum, the hotel, post office, town hall, and most of the school. There are no reports of fatalities.
The people that did not evacuate said many homes could have been saved but no water was available. The electrical power went out, which made it impossible to refill the town’s water tanks.
The remaining residents in Yarloop were going to evacuate to Pinjarra in a convoy of 30 vehicles protected on the journey by fire engines.
The latest community threatened by the Waroona Fire is the Harvey townsite, where the fire is 5 km northeast of the town and is moving toward the southwest. The effects of moderating weather have slowed the spread.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services reports that the fire has consumed 67,000 hectares (165,000 acres) and 121 homes, and is being fought by 250 firefighters, 50 appliances, air tankers, and helicopters. The fire perimeter is more than 138 miles.
The lightning caused fire was reported at 7:25 a.m. on January 6. It is being managed by an interagency Incident Management Team comprised of DFES, Parks and Wildlife, and local government personnel.
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).