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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Natasha May

Perth fires: 18 homes destroyed as fire crews brace for more dangerous conditions

Fires in Perth
WA authorities say 18 homes have been destroyed after fires tore through parts of Perth’s north-east. Photograph: WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services/AFP/Getty Images

The number of homes an out-of-control bushfire has destroyed in metropolitan Perth has been revised up to 18, as firefighters prepare for a weekend of scorching temperatures.

The Western Australian premier, Roger Cook, returned from a trade mission to China on Friday and toured the fire grounds.

“It is extraordinary that despite the unforgiving conditions that have fuelled this bushfire emergency, there has been no loss of human life,” he said.

“Homeowners who have been affected are still being notified so today is obviously a really tough day for them.

“Our thoughts go out to these people and their families.”

The blaze started in a pine forest on Wednesday before ripping through 18 sq km of tinder-dry semi-rural properties and suburbs.

It has also significantly damaged a further five homes and destroyed 31 sheds and out-buildings, along with animals, livestock and vehicles.

More than 150 firefighters continue to battle the blaze in Perth’s north-east, which has a 64km perimeter and is 95% contained.

Authorities say it will take at least another three to four days to bring the fire under control, with high temperatures forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

“Conditions will be tough over the weekend with hot temperatures and chances of dry lightning,” Cook said.

Firefighters are also concerned about a forecast south-westerly change in wind direction that could potentially threaten the previously untested northern flank of the fire.

An emergency warning is in place for parts of Jandabup, Melaleuca, Wanneroo and Mariginiup, with residents warned they’re in danger and need to act immediately to survive.

“There is a threat to lives and homes,” the Department of Fire and Emergency Services warning said.

The massive blaze forced hundreds of residents and families to flee their homes on Wednesday night as strong winds fanned embers a kilometre ahead of the fire front.

Firefighters and water bombers worked through Thursday to contain the blaze as gusty winds fanned flare-ups and residents prepared their homes for the worst.

More than 1,000 people were also left without power as critical infrastructure was brought down and schools and public buildings were closed.

After peaking at 39C on Thursday, the forecast is for 33C on Friday and 39C on Saturday and Sunday.

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