Out-of-control blaze threatens homes

2011-11-23 09:11

An out-of-control fire raging in Western Australia’s southwest was threatening homes in the coastal region, after sweeping through 100 hectares of bushland as temperatures soared, officials warned.

A bushfire emergency warning was issued for the Kilcarnup and Prevelly communities, not far from the popular tourist town of Margaret River south of Perth, where more than 60 fire fighters were battling the unpredictable blaze.

“Houses are currently being impacted by fire,” the Department of Environment and Conservation said in a warning.

A spokesperson said it was not known how badly homes or properties had been affected, but the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said residents of Prevelly and nearby areas had left their homes and were prepared for the worst.

“We were right in the line of the smoke when it was first coming and then it just came very quickly upon us,” local Nola Gaebler told the broadcaster.

“We tried to douse the house but I don’t think we’re going to have much luck, I think our house might have gone, I have a feeling.”

The blaze, which began as a prescribed burn, had forced the closure of some roads and was moving towards the town of Kilkarnup at 200 metres per hour, the Department of Environment and Conservation said.

“It is out of control and unpredictable,” it added.The department had earlier warned there was a possible threat to lives and homes as a fire approached the area, warning locals to leave or get ready to actively defend their properties.

In February, wildfires damaged or destroyed some 59 homes and scorched hundreds of hectares in Perth, Australia’s fourth largest city, after two major blazes triggered by heat and high winds raged.

Bushfires are a regular summer feature in Australia where in February 2009 the deadly Black Saturday firestorm claimed 173 lives in the nation’s southeastern Victoria state.

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