Western Australia is continuing to battle severe bushfires that have entered their fifth day, with reports that two people have died but with the remaining missing persons being accounted for.
The remains of two elderly men, believed to be aged 77 and 73, were discovered by Department of Fire and Emergency Services officers in two burnt-down properties in Yarloop on Saturday.
The bushfires, which were sparked by a lightning strike on Wednesday, have so far burnt through more than 70,000 hectares and destroyed at least 143 properties including houses, sheds and other building structures.
The first town to be ravaged by the fires was Yarloop which lies south of Perth and is home to around 500 residents. The fires destroyed the heritage-listed Yarloop Timber Mill Workshops, the local town hall, hotel and post office with many residents evacuating the site leaving just a few behind to defend their homes.
— Templeman Twells (@TemplemanTwells) January 9, 2016
Although weather conditions have eased slightly with bushfires gradually moving in an easterly direction, emergency warnings are still in place for East of Waroona, Hamel and Yarloop and surrounding areas in the Shires of Harvey and Waroona.
Meanwhile, a bushfire “Watch and Act” remains in place for Preston Beach, Lake Cliffton and the Waroona townsite.
“Conditions around Harvey and Waroona are certainly easing tonight, winds are light, only around 10 kilometres per hour and the temperature’s dropped into the low 20s and the relative humidity is also quite high and potential for even light shower activity tonight and tomorrow morning,” the Bureau of Meteorology’s Adam Conroy told the ABC.
Around 2,500 people were evacuated from Harvey on Saturday afternoon after fire conditions escalated with bushfires breaking free of containment lines.
The DFES warns that the fire remains uncontained and not yet controlled. Community meetings are scheduled for 11.30 today at the Waroona Recreation Centre, 1pm at the Leschenault Leisure Centre in Australind and 2pm at the Murray Leisure Centre in Pinjarra.
Here’s a look at the map of the Waroona fires:
— ABC Emergency (@ABCemergency) January 10, 2016
Yesterday, 60 firefighters and five ambulance officers from NSW flew into Western Australia yesterday to provide support with two additional choppers from NSW heading to the bushfire scene today. WA premier Colin Barnett has also suspended his annual leave to attend to fire-affected communities today.
Four firefighters have been injured from battling the bushfires.
More information can be found at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website.