Red Alert In Australia As Heatwave Kills And Burns In Perth

A heatwave is rolling across Australia leaving one dead and dozens of homes burnt out in Western Australia.

Authorities issued alerts as the wave of record temperatures moved east from the west coast.

A man died while trying to prepare his house for an approaching bushfire in the Perth Hills area. He collapsed while on his roof.

Several people thought to have been missing have now been accounted for.

The bushfire which destroyed houses and burned hundreds of hectares in the Perth hills is contained but not under control.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services confirmed that 46 buildings had been lost, 44 homes and two sheds.

More than 1,000 homes are without electricity and 275 firefighters are still battling the blaze.

The Insurance Council of Australia formally declared a Catastrophe for the area.

Council CEO Rob Whelan said: “Insurers are standing by to handle inquiries and claims from affected policyholders, and they will prioritise these cases to help reduce the stress these households are suffering.”

Both the state and federal governments have announced assistance packages.

Acting Premier Kim Hames said: “Given the extreme weather conditions and intensity of the fire, fire crews did a remarkable job to save the homes they did.”

The State Government would make available a payment of $3,000 to those whose homes have been destroyed and $1,000 to people whose houses have been damaged but which are still habitable.

Federal Attorney-General George Brandis announced a Disaster Recovery Payment of $1,000 per adult and $400 for each child.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued severe fire warnings for Eucla, east of Perth, and parts of South Australia.

The heatwave brought a top tempertature of 44 degrees for Perth at the weekend and the city’s hottest night on record with a low of 29.7 degrees early Sunday.

What’s causing the severe weather?

One theory is that a tropical low in Australia’s North West is super charging the heat.

Tess Parker, a doctoral candidate at Monash University says: “This week, a tropical low is forecast to intensify over northern Western Australia, and a trough will extend from north-west to south-east across the state. Whether or not a tropical cyclone develops, the effects of these low pressure systems will be felt as far away as Melbourne and Hobart.”

She and her colleagues made the connection to tropical lows while studying the 2009 heatwave which set new weather records and left hundreds of dead.

They found that a tropical low, which may or may not develop into a cyclone, off the north of Western Australia can create an extreme heat wave across South Australia, southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

An appeal fund has been set up to help families who have been affected by the fire. Money instead of goods is what is most needed. Donations to the Parkerville Fire Appeal can be made:

  • Over the counter at any BankWest branch or agency to the dedicated appeal account BSB 306-089, account 323311-7
  • EFT to BankWest’s appeal account BSB 306-089, account 323311-7
  • On the phone for credit card donation, 08 9461 3886 during normal business hours

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