Fire in Australia
Fire in Australia
08 February 2011
Smoke clouds swarm over a forest area in Kelmscott near Perth late Feb. 6, 2011 as bushfires continue to ravage the Perth hills district. The West Australian Fire and Emergency Authority (FESA) said 7 February that 59 homes have been destroyed. More than 100 firefighters are battling from the ground and air to contain the fires that are burning out of control in the bush-fringed suburbs of Perth.
Flames rise amid smoke clouds over a forest area in Kelmscott near Perth late Feb. 6, 2011 as bushfires continue to ravage the Perth hills district. The West Australian Fire and Emergency Authority (FESA) said 7 February that 59 homes have been destroyed. More than 100 firefighters are battling from the ground and air to contain the fires that are burning out of control in the bush-fringed suburbs of Perth.
The Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett inspects a property burnt to the ground in the bush fire damaged area in Roleystone near Perth, Australia, 07 February 2011. The West Australian Fire and Emergency Authority (FESA) believe 59 homes have been destroyed by a bushfire which has ravaged the Perth hills district. The Perth fires are the latest in a string of natural disasters to befall Australia and follow on from 10 years of drought.
A water bombing helicopter flies into the smoke of a bushfire burning out of control on Perth’s eastern edge, Australia’s west coast on 06 February 2011. High winds hampered the efforts of 150 firefighters and six helicopters to douse the blaze that threatened homes on Perth’s eastern edge. The outbreak in Perth coincides with the second anniversary of forest fires north of Melbourne that claimed 173 lives, destroyed 2,000 properties and blackened 450,000 hectares.
A bush fire burns out of control in the hills on Perth’s eastern edge, Darling Range, on 06 February 2011, threatening homes and forcing the evacuation of more than 100 people. Around 150 firefighters and five helicopters battled the blaze. The outbreak in Perth coincides with the second anniversary of forest fires north of Melbourne that claimed 173 lives, destroyed 2,000 properties and blackened 450,000 hectares.
Hills residents at Armadale recreation centre are told of the destruction caused by the fire front which swept down valleys in the hills suburbs near Perth, Australia, 07 February 2011. The West Australian Fire and Emergency Authority (FESA) believe 59 homes have been destroyed by a bushfire which has ravaged the Perth hills district. The Perth fires are the latest in a string of natural disasters to befall Australia and follow on from 10 years of drought.
Derryn Grosse (foreground) and Bennett Moran battle a bushfire at Roleystone using a rake and a gum tree branch in Perth Hills, Australia, 06 February 2011. The fast moving fire damaged or destroyed 35 homes at Roleystone. The outbreak in Perth coincides with the second anniversary of forest fires north of Melbourne that claimed 173 lives, destroyed 2,000 properties and blackened 450,000 hectares.
Firefighters lose homes in Perth blaze
The families of two firefighters have reportedly lost their homes in bushfires that continue to burn out of control on the outskirts of Perth.
The Western Australian Government has declared the devastated bushfire area south-east of Perth a natural disaster zone and will provide financial assistance to families affected by the blaze.
One blaze at Roleystone in the south-east has burnt 440 hectares and fire crews say strong easterly winds are making it difficult to bring it under control.
The fire broke out when a spark from an angle grinder ignited dry grass, forcing hundreds to flee their homes and spend Sunday night in an evacuation centre set up at Armadale Arena.
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Armadale Mayor Linton Reynolds has told the ABC of the reports that firefighters lost their homes.
“You would think their two houses were pretty well prepared for this, so it just shows that even with the best preparation in the world, when you get a fireball coming out of bushland, we can’t stop it,” he said.
Firefighters are assessing the damage to properties in Roleystone and Kelmscott and a community meeting will be held in which many residents will learn for the first time if their homes are still intact.
At least 59 homes have been destroyed and a further 19 are partially damaged.
The fire has also left more than 1,500 homes in the affected areas without power as a number of power poles and power lines are down.
Kelmscott resident Frank Duffy only discovered he had lost his home when his daughter rang to say she was looking at a picture of it on a news website.
Mr Duffy says he and his wife had grabbed their dogs and a few precious items before fleeing their house.
“It was moving up the hill away from us and then suddenly it just jumped across Brookton Highway,” he said.
“The house below us just exploded and then there must have been gas cylinders – we heard all these explosions, it was like machine gunfire, and then the fire just came straight at us.”
Mr Reynolds says there has been strong support from the wider community, including donations of bedding and clothing for people forced to leave their homes.
“A lot of people have been evacuated who subsequently will go back and find their houses intact,” he said.
“Of course, some of them face the worrying thought that they’ll go back to a charred mess.”
The WA Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) says the location of the fire and strong winds have made it difficult for firefighters to get control of the blaze.
Meanwhile, about 100 firefighters are still working to contain an out-of-control blaze in Perth’s north-east.
The fire at Red Hill has burnt more than 1,100 hectares since it started on Saturday night.
FESA says it is now safe for residents west of Campersic Road to return home.
“We’ve actually sent people back into Brigadoon itself. We did open it up,” spokesman Les Hayter said.
“We’ve also managed to open up Baskerville, Millendon and Herne Hill that were originally on an emergency warning.”
Fires are also burning in Chittering, 50 kilometres north of Perth, and Jarrahdale, 60 kilometres south-east of the city.
There is no threat to lives or homes but residents in the areas are urged to stay alert.
Premier Colin Barnett says the situation is extremely dangerous and continues to be so with a major loss of property and extensive damage to public infrastructure.
Mr Barnett says the Government has made $3,000 available immediately for families who have lost their homes and $1,000 is available to families whose homes have experienced significant damage.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also indicated that those who have lost their homes in the Perth bushfires may not be required to pay the flood levy.
Victims of the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi have already been exempted from the $1.8 billion levy.
Ms Gillard says the Government will consider whether to extend the exemption to include bushfire victims, but it is too early to make a final decision.
Strong winds hamper efforts to fight Mid West fire
More than 8,000 hectares of bushland in the Lesueur National Park has been burnt and surrounding farmland has been destroyed.
The Department of Environment and Conservation says firefighters have worked through the night to bring the fire under control.
The department’s Tim Folley says although no lives or homes are in danger, residents must continue to monitor the situation.
“Until we see reduced wind speed and maybe a bit of cooler weather there’s always a risk that there could be problems, but certainly we’ve got good resources on the ground to continue to work on securing the boundary,” he said.
Meanwhile, a bushfire advice remains in place for residents in many parts of the Shire of Chittering, north east of Perth.
The fire has burnt 40 hectares of bushland since it started yesterday afternoon.
Authorities say although there is no threat to lives or homes, residents must remain up to date if conditions change.
Government offers aid to Australians hit by Perth bushfires
The Commonwealth Government will provide assistance for communities in Western Australia hit by severe bushfires over the past 72 hours.
At least 68 homes in the south-eastern suburbs of Roleystone and Kelmscott have been destroyed by the fire, which started on Sunday.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the activation of assistance follows the declaration by the Western Australian Government of five Local Government Areas as natural disaster zones the City of Armadale, City of Canning, Shire of Chittering, Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale and the City of Swan.
The declaration gives communities who have been impacted by the bushfires access to joint Commonwealth/State Government assistance under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).
This includes emergency assistance for people who have suffered personal hardship, infrastructure rebuilding, small business support and support for primary producers.
Mr McClelland said This is obviously an incredibly difficult time for the hundreds of residents whove lost their homes or have been forced to evacuate.
Two Ericsson heavy-lift helicopters jointly funded by the Commonwealth Government as part of the National Aerial Firefighting Capability are enroute to Western Australia from Victoria.
The Commonwealth Government stands ready to offer any further assistance to help authorities and the community deal with these devastating fires.
Aus wildfire under control, over 64 houses destroyed
The wildfire that destroyed over 64 houses in the Australian city of Perth has been brought under control, officials said.
Firefighters have worked hard throughout to contain and bring the fire under control, they said.
Fires and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) incident controller Gary Kennedy though warned people of the suburb of Armadale that ember attack was still a real threat to properties.
He said the fire zone remains dangerous because of falling power poles and trees.
This has forced evacuees to spend another night in emergency accommodation until the further safe notice on fire zone.
The bushfires which started on Sunday has destroyed more than 64 homes in the suburb of Kelmscott and Roleystone.
The fires were contained and under control but residents were still on alert as conditions in these suburbs remained unpredictable, according to reports.
Easterly winds are forecast to stay around at least for today, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
Over 100 firefighters still at the scene are having to battle not only the elements, but the terrain, with hilly areas proving difficult to get to.
Fallen power lines and poles also remain a hazard, while more than 550 properties are without electricity. Power was cut to the area on Sunday to provide a safer environment for firefighters
Fire breaks have proved effective in containing spot fires. Several roads remain closed this morning, while other previously-closed roads were re-opened about 10pm yesterday.
But authorities urged motorists to stay away from the area if possible.
Authorities in Health Department have warned those with respiratory issues to take precautions to minimise their exposure to smoke.
At least 12 people have so far been hospitalised after suffering smoke inhalation, while a firefighter was also taken to hospital after injuring a leg when hit by a fire truck near Roleystone.
Bushfire victims returning home
Hundreds of residents affected by a large bushfire in Perth’s south-east have been told they will be able to return to their homes over the next couple of days.
At least 72 homes were destroyed and 32 others damaged when the blaze ripped through the suburbs of Kelmscott and Roleystone, south-east of the city centre, after being started by sparks from an angle grinder on Sunday.
Authorities say they are not sure of the exact number of homes damaged because the bushfire is still burning, although it is now under control.
Authorities expect about 70 per cent of residents to be able to return to their homes by the end of the day.
Fire and Services Emergency Authority (FESA) spokesman Craig Hynes says some residents will be escorted to their properties to assess the damage.
“We’ll do it in the most sensitive way we can, but I think people do want to get access and just see what’s happened and get some sort of closure,” he said.
Clifton Hills residents who have been allowed back to their properties have been dealt mixed fortunes.
After an anxious 48 hours Paul Bosveld’s worst fears were confirmed when he returned to his home last night.
He says after 20 years of living the dream he probably will not rebuild.
“My wife’s not that keen to come back here in a hurry, so more than likely [we’ll] just move on,” he said.
Just down the road, Katrina Arnold inspected her timber home, amazed that it is still standing.
“There’s houses just completely at random, one here, one there, one way over there, there’s three in a row then there’s nothing,” she said.
About 16 locals stayed at the Armadale gymnasium overnight while other residents were taken in by family and friends.
Residents have told the ABC they were forced to flee without protecting their homes or saving possessions because warnings about the speed and extent of the blaze came too late.
The WA Government has donated $1 million to the bushfire relief fund, which is on top of the $3,000 payment available to people who have lost their homes.
Premier Colin Barnett says he was stunned by the devastation in the Roleystone area when he visited yesterday.
“I have seen first-hand the devastation these bushfires caused. At many of the properties I saw there was simply nothing left,” he said.
Western Power says about 460 homes are still without power in the Kelmscott and Roleystone areas.
At the height of the fire, electricity was cut to more than 2,000 properties to ensure firefighters were safe while they moved through the area.
There has been significant damage to the network in some areas.
FESA has blamed rooftop air conditioners for the damage to some homes and are lobbying the industry to make them safer.
“Even in rather minor incidents – I’ve even witnessed it – where we’ve done a great job in stopping a fire, all of a sudden, randomly, a house starts burning some 100 metres away just from an ember attack onto an air-conditioning unit,” Mr Hynes said.