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'Unpredictable' fire threatening suburbs treated as 'suspicious'

Yahoo News Staff
·4-min read

An “unpredictable” fire threatening homes south of Perth is being treated as suspicious.

A bushfire emergency warning was issued on Sunday morning for residents in Oakford, Casuarina, Wandi, Wellard, Anketell, and Oldbury in the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale and City of Kwinana.

It was downgraded to watch and act on Sunday afternoon.

While the fire is now stationary people have been told to evacuate as it remains unpredictable. As of Sunday morning, it had burned through more than 280 hectares.

“There is a possible threat to lives and homes as a fire is burning in the area and weather conditions are likely to change throughout the day,” the Emergency WA warning said.

Pictured is a firefighter battling the Oakford fire in Western Australia.
A firefighters battles the Oakford fire. Source: Evan Collis via DFES

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Superintendent Peter Sutton said the cause of the fire was yet to be determined and therefore was being treated as suspicious.

“The arson squad have had a look at the area, and have done their role,” Supt Sutton said.

“They cannot find a cause, so the lean then is towards suspicious.

“So we just ask people to report any information if they have – camera footage of around the area of Horton and King road, to report that to police or Crime Stoppers.”

A police car travels through bushfires south of Perth.
The fires are now being treated as suspicious as their cause is yet to be determined. Source: Nine News

Earlier, residents were told not to “wait and see” and if the passage is clear to leave immediately for a safer place.

“If you cannot leave, you need to get ready to shelter in your home,” the warning said.

They were advised to shelter at home in a room with an escape passage and water, such as a laundry or a bathroom, facing away from the fire front.

Western Power says electricity supplies have also been cut to some customers with more than 200 properties currently without power.

Meanwhile, train services on the Mandurah Line have resumed servicing all stations between Mandurah and Perth.

Firefighters have ‘significant concerns’

Supt Sutton said southeasterly winds were causing issues for firefighters.

“We do have significant concerns of the southern boundary of this fire, so that is our priority today,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“While we do have the freeway still closed at the moment, we are working through our process with police and made roads to open the freeway, there are a number of other vehicle control points in place.

“We also have aircraft on standby and additional crews on standby, in case the fire does break containment lines.”

‘Challenging conditions ahead’

Department of Fire and Emergency Services District Officer Russell Wells told reporters on Saturday 150 fire personnel remain on the ground.

Mr Wells added he expected firefighters to remain in the area “for the next few days”.

“There are certainly some challenging conditions ahead,” he said.

“Tomorrow [Sunday] is going to be warmer and much the same as today – easterly winds driving this fire into a westerly direction and certainly the broader outlook for the next few days is going to give us some concerns.

Firefighters outside a home in Oakford during a bushfire.
Crews help protect a home in Oakford during the ongoing bushfires. Source: Evan Collis via DFES

“But what we’re really trying to do at the moment is bring this fire under control today and hopefully have a really strong presence tomorrow so it doesn’t flare up.”

Areas south of Perth are forecast to hit a top of 35 degrees on Sunday. Some areas, including Mandurah, reached 28 about 9.40am (local time).

A “Watch and Act” alert has also been issued for Parmelia, The Spectacles, Orelia, Postans and Bertram with residents told to stay alert to a possible threat to lives and homes as conditions are constantly changing.

Evacuation centres originally set up at Serpentine-Jarrahdale Recreation Centre and Kwinana Recquatic are now closed.

Several roads have been closed including the Kwinana Freeway in northbound and southbound directions, and Anketell Road and Thomas Road.

Other residents in parts of Calista, Medina, Naval Base, Postans, Kwinana Beach and Hope Valley were issued with an “advice” warning, meaning there was no immediate danger but people should stay up-to-date.

The fire started near Modong Nature Reserve in Oakford.

Meanwhile, there is a total fire ban for the Midwest Gascoyne region, including the Chapman Valley, Greater Geraldton and Northampton.

with AAP

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