Residents in several suburbs in Perth’s south were warned to “act immediately to survive” while others scrambled after being told it was “too late to leave” in a dramatic night that saw an out-of-control bushfire roar through the area.
The fire was reported at around 2.30pm local time Tuesday afternoon and grew larger into the night with approximately 60 firefighters on ground battling the blaze, supported by air water bombers as the flames crept closer towards homes, helped by strong winds.
Authorities said the fire was unpredictable and warned residents not to get in its way. The cause of the blaze is currently unknown.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) issued emergency warnings over the course of the evening for southern parts of Atwell, northern parts of Aubin Grove and western parts of Banjup in the city of Cockburn.
“You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes,” the DFES warned residents.
“If you are not at home, it’s too dangerous to return”.
For people in homes on and near Prosperity Loop, it was too late to leave and residents were forced to fend for themselves.
Authorities advised residents in the area to “shelter in your home in a room away from the fire front and make sure you can easily escape”.
“You must shelter before the fire arrives, as the extreme heat will kill you well before the flames reach you.
“Close all doors and windows and turn off evaporative air conditioners, but keep water running through the system if possible.
“Choose a room with two exits and water such as a kitchen or laundry.”
The DFES told shocked residents to protect themselves by wearing long sleeves and trousers made from cotton or wool and strong leather boots.
Burning embers were likely to be blown around properties, they said.
“If your home catches on fire and the conditions inside become unbearable, you need to get out and go to an area that has already been burnt.”
The alerts for Aubin Grove and Banjup were downgraded to a Watch and Act alert just after 10pm, with a “possible threat to lives and homes” with a fire still burning in the area and conditions changing.
“If you are well prepared and plan to actively defend your home, make final preparations now,” the DFES advised residents in Aubin Grove and Banjup.
“If you plan to stay and actively defend, do not rely on mains water pressure as it may be affected. You need to have access to an independent water supply, and start patrolling your property to put out spot fires.”
“If you are not at home, do not try to return as conditions in the area could be very dangerous.”
The alert level for Atwell was downgraded to Advice as the fire was contained and brought under control.
It was a battle on two fronts for firefighters on Tuesday after another bushfire forced families to evacuate a theme park and an ice arena during school holidays.
The “packed” Adventure World and the Cockburn Ice Arena in Bibra Lake were evacuated during a bushfire emergency on Tuesday afternoon which sparked shortly before 1pm on Tuesday and raged towards the park’s boundary.
The fire was later lowered to an advice warning and Adventure World said it will open on Wednesday as scheduled.
The DFES said the fire was contained and controlled and that there was no threat to lives or homes.
Motorists were asked to avoid the area, reduce speed and drive carefully due to smoke.
Visit emergency.wa.gov.au or call 13 DFES (13 3337) for more details.