Australia: Bushfires threaten city suburbs

Bushfires threaten city suburbs

17 January 2005


By Andrea Mayes

RESIDENTS of several eastern Perth suburbs are preparing to evacuate their houses as about six bushfires burn out of control in national parks and areas of state forest on the fringes of the city.

More than 200 volunteer firefighters and four aerial water bombers fought all day yesterday to contain a fire at Karragullen and Pickering Brook in the hills east of Perth, but their efforts were thwarted by hot easterly winds that fanned the flames.

The fire had burnt out more than 3000ha of state forest by late afternoon yesterday, but no property damage had been reported.

Thick smoke blanketed Perth’s southern suburbs and several roads in the area of the blazes were closed.

A Department of Conservation and Land Management spokesman said firefighters were hoping an expected change in wind direction to a northeasterly would help contain the fires by this morning.

Four other fires in the same area were contained yesterday by crews from the Fire and Emergency Services Authority, volunteer bushfire brigades and CALM. At least three of the fires were believed to have been deliberately lit.

Other fires broke out late yesterday afternoon in suburban Helena Valley, the Kalamunda and John Forrest national parks and the eastern hills district.

A police spokesman said high temperatures and strong winds were fanning the blazes, and residents of Helena Valley and Boya were being evacuated as fire swept through the nearby Greenmount National Park.

“It seems to be getting worse and worse,” he said. “There’s fires breaking out everywhere and houses in Helena Valley are now being threatened.

“There are spot fires springing up around the main fires and we are trying to get the situation under control as quickly as possible.”

He said police and state emergency services personnel were trying to move people from the area quickly as the fires intensified.

A Pickering Brook resident who did not want to be named said she and her husband had packed up their car and were ready to evacuate. “Everything’s ready to go and we’re about to head out the door,” she said. “The fire’s still 3km away but we’ve been advised to evacuate and that’s what we’re doing.”

She said several of her neighbours who kept horses had moved their animals earlier in the day and left their houses. The area is home to hobby farmers and orchardists, and many residents live on large blocks surrounded by bushland.

The Australian



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