Australia fire damage 'like war zone'
Perth - An Australian bushfire which ripped
through a scenic coastal region left some areas looking like a war zone,
residents said on Saturday as authorities downgraded the alert level.
Thirty-four houses, four sheds and nine
chalets, including the historic 1865 Wallcliffe House, were lost in the blaze
which also damaged a further 16 houses and one shop at Prevelly, Gnarabup and
"Although the warning was downgraded
overnight... a fire threat still exists and may worsen at any time,"
Western Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation's bushfire
It is expected it will take a week to fully
extinguish the flames which ripped through some 3 363ha in the coastal,
wine-growing region about 280km south of the west coast city of Perth.
One man who lost his home, Garrath Stewart,
said his street had been badly hit by the blaze which burned out his house but
left clothes on the washing line in the garden virtually untouched.
"Napalm, Vietnam, defoliation - there's
just no vegetation in certain areas - you look out and it's just sand and dead
trees," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation after being taken
by bus to see the devastation.
"It's like a war zone," one
firefighter told Sky News. "Nothing can compare."
The fire was sparked by a government burn-off
which got out of control as high winds and soaring temperatures hit the area on
Wednesday and Thursday.
Fire crews made the most of milder conditions
Friday to strengthen containment lines and about 250 firefighters and
volunteers, aided by water bombers, were working to ensure the fire does not