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Ten homes lost in Perth bushfire as temperatures soar

Embers rain down

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Ten homes have been lost to bushfires raging in Perth’s northern suburbs as firefighters face “unforgiving” weather conditions expected to hit 40 degrees on Thursday.

Western Australia Deputy Premier Rita Saffioti said crews were counting the damage after a challenging 24 hours, but the fire threat was not over and could last for days.

As well as houses, four sheds were engulfed by flames, plus numerous vehicles including caravans.

Saffioti said the weather forecast on Thursday was for extreme heat and strong winds as an intense heatwave gripped parts of WA, with wind gusts up to 80km/h.

“I can confirm at this stage 10 homes have been lost along with four sheds … and numerous infrastructure,” she said.

“The forecast for today is unforgiving. The temperature is expected to hit a maximum of 40 degrees, and the winds continue to be strong.

“Today will be a difficult day for everyone involved.”

Emergency warnings remained for Wanneroo, Jandabup, Mariginiup, Melaleuca, Sinagra and Tapping, about 30 kilometres north of the city centre.

Residents were either fleeing or deciding to stay and defend their homes, Chief Superintendent Metropolitan David Gill said.

Videos and photos posted online appear to show gutted homes and sheds with twisted and buckled tin roofs surrounded by blackened gardens.

Another show firefighters battling spot fires near homes in gusty winds and intense smoke that pushed the blaze into suburban streets.

Gill earlier said firefighters were working to strengthen containment lines around the blaze.

“In these conditions, these fires can spread so fast,” he told ABC News.

He said the fire had “pulled up” as it reached urban areas and was spreading on its flanks to the north and south.

“We are expecting strong winds again today in difficult conditions with high temperatures,” he said.

Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said a huge amount of firefighting resources, including multiple water bombers, were being used to battle the blaze.

“This is a significant fire … this will be a long-running incident and could take some time before the fire is brought under control given the situation we find ourselves in terms of the wind and high temperatures,” he said.

“The firefighters have been working incredibly hard to make sure we save as many homes as possible.”

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said it would take time to get critical infrastructure repaired after a number of power poles were damaged.

More than 1000 properties in the bushfire area are without power.

“The fire progressed really quickly to the west and the influence of those winds,” Klemm said.

He said the fire broke containment lines early on Thursday, with spot fires breaking out about a kilometre ahead of the fire front.

It continues to be fanned by north-easterly winds in semi-rural suburbs.

Sarah Kilian stayed to defend her Tapping home from the blaze that ripped through nearby market gardens and engulfed a local park after leaping a four-lane road.

“There was two massive fires coming down the road and smoke everywhere,” she said on Thursday.

“We haven’t slept a wink.”

Kilian said most of her neighbours evacuated their homes during the night as embers rained down on houses that border semi-rural properties.

“Lucky my hubby stomped them out. It was just scary all night – absolutely chaotic,” she said.

Some residents were told it was too late to leave their homes and they should immediately find shelter away from the fire front that was moving in a south-westerly direction.

More than 100 firefighters were battling the blaze on Thursday that had forced hundreds of local families to evacuate their properties overnight.

More than 1000 properties in the bushfire area are without power, and an evacuation centre has been set up in the nearby suburb of Quinns Rock.

Local resident Bruno Rikli helped evacuate an elderly couple from home overnight as the firefront crept within a few streets of their property.

“There was a massive plume of smoke in the night sky and a ball of red embers that was glowing red,” he said.

“Roads were blocked but we got them out.”

Rikli said the couple’s home survived the night without damage but the wind had started to whip up on Thursday morning. Ash was falling on homes several kilometres west of the blaze.

“You can smell the smoke and it’s hazy but fire crews are doing an amazing job,” he said.

The fire was reported about 1pm on Wednesday and 15 square kilometres of bush and grassland has been burned.

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