Raging bushfires destroy entire Australian town, threaten others

A bushfire emergency warning issued for the southern Perth suburb of Forrestdale in the City of Armadale has been downgraded, with one property believed damaged in the blaze.

About 95 houses in Yarloop, south of Perth, have been destroyed and three people are reported to be missing as a massive bushfire is still burning out of control in Western Australia.

The “catastrophic” bushfire has burnt through a historic town in Western Australia, officials have said. The out-of-control blaze 110km (68m) south of Perth more than doubled in size in 24 hours and has now burned through 53,000 hectares (130,000 acres), with a third of the town of Yarloop destroyed.

“I believe we’ve had what I would suggest [are] catastrophic losses within Yarloop,” the state’s Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Wayne Gregson told reporters.

“It appears that we’ve lost around 95 houses, a number of structures within the town site including some of the historical buildings.”

The fire area is now 58,000 hectares and emergency warnings remain in place for Waroona, Harvey and surrounding areas including Preston Beach.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) issued an emergency warning for Nicholson Road between Swamp Road and Oxley Road earlier on Friday afternoon.

“I still can’t believe it, I saw a town disintegrate before my eyes”, commented Chris Gable, a volunteer firefighter in Western Australia.

Aerial footage taken shortly afterwards showed one building on fire. However just before 6:30pm, DFES lowered the warning.

“The alert level for this fire has been downgraded as fire behaviour has moderated,” DFES said. “There is a possible threat to lives and homes as fires are burning in the area and conditions are changing.”

Western Australia Fire Commissioner Wayne Gregson told a news conference that the fire in Yarloop was too intense to be tackled head-on.

He said four firefighters were injured battling the blaze and one fire truck was destroyed.

The fire was first reported after daylight on Thursday, January 6. It’s believed to have been ignited by a lightning strike hitting bushland.

Firefighters battle bushfire in Australia
Firefighters battle bushfire in Australia

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