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81 homes destroyed in Perth bushfire as firefighters battle ferocious winds

Perth, Australia: Fresh evacuation warnings have been issued to Perth residents as 81 homes have been gutted by an out-of-control bushfire in city’s north-eastern suburbs.

People living in the Avon Ridge and Joshua Mews areas has been warned that they were in immediate danger.

Hundreds of residents in the Shady Hills estate and East Bullsbrook area have been told to evacuate immediately if they are not prepared to fight the fire, which is expected to reach homes shortly.

Speaking from the WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Incident Control Centre set up at the Mundaring Arena, Premier Mark McGowan described the current situation as unprecedented and extremely dangerous.

Premier Mark McGowan has revealed that 81 homes have now been destroyed by an out-of-control bushfire in Perth’s north-eastern suburbs.

However, that number is a more accurate tally of damage already done, rather than additional losses.

“As far as we know, no additional homes have been lost overnight thanks to the incredible work of our firefighters,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“However, the total number of homes lost has now been assessed as 81.”

McGowan stressed that the bushfire emergency “is not over”.

“These fires are highly unpredictable and things can go bad very quickly. Weather conditions are still volatile, with strong winds forecast. So, please, make sure you continue to follow the emergency advice,” he said.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said no additional loss of homes overnight was a “great outcome”.

“It is a credit to the strategies that were put in place by the incident management team and backed up by the firefighters on the ground in incredibly difficult conditions overnight,” he said.

“Our thoughts are with all of those people who have lost their homes in this event.”

The massive blaze with a 126-km perimeter raced northwest across the city’s coastal plain after destroying 71 homes near the hills town of Wooroloo on Monday night.

The fire was pushed towards homes in Avon Ridge Estate, Shady Hills View, Gidgegannup’s north and along the Great Northern Highway on Wednesday, something Klemm said was “an indicator of some of the difficult winds that the crews experienced”.

But the blaze was stopped by more than 500 firefighters who battled tough conditions in steep terrain, and 11 air tanker sorties dropping 200,000L of fire retardant.

Fixed-wing water bombers were also unable to fly on Thursday due to strong winds.

WA Police said they were not treating the bushfire as suspicious and believe there was no criminality around the igniting of the bushfire.

Klemm said another firefighter had fallen overnight and broken a hip, but he was unable to provide any further details.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said the Federal Government was “working closely with the WA Government, amongst all of our officials and myself directly with the Premier, as needed”.

All residents of the Shady Hills Estate and East Bullsbrook area are being told to enact their bushfire survival plans immediately.

A telephone emergency warning had just been sent to homes in the affected areas, DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm told the press conference at around 12pm AWST.

“If you are not prepared, you should leave now,” Klemm said.

Shady Hills residents are being directed to leave in a northerly direction, while those east of Shady Hills Estate should exit east via Berry Road to Toodyay Road and continue in a north-easterly direction.

“That north-west corner of the fire is extremely difficult to control, in incredibly steep terrain. We’re unable to get earth moving equipment in there,” Klemm said.

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