A major bushfire in the west Australian outback has destroyed almost 40 homes, officials said Wednesday, as firefighters end a third month of fighting bushfires across the country. Fire officials say the Australian summer could be one of the worst bushfire seasons, with a series of catastrophic warnings already issued for big fires in at least three states. Australia’s most deadly bushfires occurred last February, when the “Black Saturday” infernos killed 173 people and destroyed thousands of homes in the southern Victoria state. As a result of the “Black Saturday” fires, officials adopted a “catastrophic” warning which advises residents to evacuate homes in the face of major bushfires. Until the west Australian fire this week, property losses had been few. No one has died in the fires this summer. Three firefighters and a woman from the wheat-belt town of Toodyay, in Western Australian state, suffered minor injuries in the latest bushfire, which burned 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres). “It’s a devastating fire with great destruction,” Western Australian state Premier Colin Barnett told reporters. Bushfires are a natural phenomenon in Australia, due to its hot, dry environment. Lightning strikes over dry land are the most common cause, followed by human intervention such as fires that get out of control. Australia’s bushfire danger period is from October to March, covering the end of spring, all of summer and the start of autumn, when temperatures are highest and humidity lowest. A decade-long drought and hot, dry interior outback winds have left much of Australia a tinderbox.
A catastrophic fire danger rating for Western Australia’s goldfields region has been declared by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). The eastern parts of the City of Kalgoorlie Boulder and the Shire of Dundas are included in the danger area, BoM said in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon. Residents in the area are warned to be aware of fires that will be unpredictable, difficult to control and fast moving. They have been urged to have a bushfire survival plan ready and prepare their homes for the possibility of an aggressive fire. Temperatures in the area are forecast to hover in the mid to high 30s, with southwesterly winds.
The Country Fire Service (CFS) says a bushfire at Tungkillo near the Tepko/Mount Torrens Road on the outskirts of Adelaide poses a threat to public safety. The CFS says the Tungkillo fire has burnt about 30 hectares and is travelling north-west, towards Collins and Range Roads. No properties are currently at risk but people in the area have been advised that leaving now may be their safest option. It’s not known what started the fire. Earlier some Athelstone residents were preparing to leave after a fire in the Black Hill Conservation Park came close to their homes. The blaze broke out at about 2:00am and about 120 firefighters took nine hours to contain it. Police say that blaze is suspicious.
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