A small WA community has been devastated by a horror bushfire which is believed to have wiped out 80 per cent of properties in Tilden Park.
The news was confirmed by WA Premier Mark McGowan today, who said the “extremely dangerous” and out of control blaze was threatening homes and lives.
It is believed as many as 30 homes have been destroyed in the rural estate, which is located east of Perth.
“DFES (Department of Fire and Emergency Services) advise they have lost 80 per cent of all properties in the rural area of Tilden Park in Gidgegannup (and) will be conducting inquiries in an attempt to establish whether there has been any loss of life,” Mr McGowan said.
Speaking this evening, DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm confirmed 56 homes had been lost in a bushfire at Wooloroo – around a 15 minute drive from Tilden Park – so far.
“Our rapid damage assessment teams have been through a large part of the incident with still some more to go, but at this time I can tell you that 56 homes have been lost. It is terrible news for the owners of those homes, and our thoughts are with them all,” he said.
“A process now will be undertaken. DFES will assist local governments to work through a process to notify those homeowners of the loss of those homes. The rapid damage assessment team will continue.
“The work they have done today, that will continue this afternoon and tomorrow. There is a likelihood that the number of homes lost will increase once that work has been completed.”
Earlier today, Mr McGowan said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison had been briefed on the unfolding disaster and said his state was now “battling two different kinds of emergencies” – the bushfire and a coronavirus outbreak which plunged WA into a snap, five-day lockdown.
The DFES has issued a bushfire emergency warning for people in parts of The Vines, Bailup, Ellenbrook, Gidgegannup, Millendon, Walunga National park, Upper Swan, Aveley, Henley Brook, Avon Valley National Park, Red Hill, Belhus, Baskerville, Herne Hill, Bullsbrook, Wooroloo, Brigadoon in the Shires of Mundaring, Chittering and Northam and the City of Swan.
The fire has been worsened by weather conditions as wind gusts spread the blaze in the Perth hills, with a large aerial tanker being brought in from NSW Rural Fire Service to assist.
Many locals have fled to an evacuation being managed by the Department of Communities, with residents receiving an early morning text message alerting them to the unfolding situation.
The DFES also issued a smoke alert for people located from Joondalup to Fremantle, with ash and smoky haze seen in Perth.
DFES photographer Evan Collis has also taken a series of harrowing photos showing the extent of the disaster on the ground as firefighters battle to contain the flames.