WA bushfire out of control

WA bushfire out ofcontrol

6 February 2007

published by www.theage.com.au

Australia —  Firefighters are still battling a massive fire which hasdestroyed 16 houses around the West Australian town of Dwellingup, south ofPerth.

About 300 Department of Environment and Conservation fire crews and volunteerbrigades worked through the night to contain the 100 kilometre perimeter fire,which has so far razed more than 13,000 hectares of forest and farmland.

Dangerous fire conditions are forecast for tomorrow.

DEC spokesman Terry Maher said firefighters were working to prevent unburntpockets from flaring up during tomorrow’s forecast hot, strong northerly winds.

“The western and eastern edges are good but we still have considerablework to do along the southern boundary,” Mr Maher said.

“The terrain along this edge is steep in parts and access is difficult .. . we will have to burn out any pockets between the containment lines and thefire.”

The DEC will hold public meetings today to explain their firefighting plansto residents.

All the other fires in and around Perth have now been contained, including atthe now re-opened John Forrest National Park, Forrestdale and Hope Valley, inPerth’s south, Mandurah, south of the city, and Yanchep, just north of Perth.

A bushfire emergency period has been declared for WA’s south, during which nofires can be lit without permission from Emergency Services Minister JohnKobelke.

The WA government is offering a $200,000 reward for anyone who providesinformation leading to the conviction of an arsonist.

An investigation is continuing into the cause of a bushfire at Toodyay, 85kilometres northeast of Perth, in which 26-year-old school teacher Michelle Mackwas killed on Saturday.

Utility company Western Power’s Managing Director Doug Aberle has personallycontacted Ms Mack’s family to apologise after a preliminary investigation foundthe fire may have been sparked by powerlines clashing in high winds.

Ms Mack died when her car rolled as she attempted to escape the blaze and shewas thrown from the vehicle.

Police are still unsure if she was killed in the crash or was burnt to death.

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