[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Wildfire destroys homes in west Australia

Flames prevent paramedics from reaching man who collapsed and died on the roof of his home in Perth.

Last updated: 13 Jan 2014 04:44
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Nearly 150 firefighters continued to fight the blaze in Perth that took one man's life and destroyed 27 homes [AP]

A fast-moving wildfire destroyed at least 27 homes in western Australia's Perth, officials said, with one man dying as he prepared for the approaching inferno.

The blaze, thought to have been started by a fallen power line in the city's wooded outskirts on Sunday, was fanned by hot, strong gusts that saw 20-metre flames tear through residential streets.

"It has been confirmed that 27 homes have been lost at this stage, but this number is expected to increase as damage assessments continue throughout the day," Western Australia state's fire and emergency services department said on Monday.

The ambulance service said a man, aged 62, had died after collapsing on the roof of his house as he prepared for the oncoming blaze.

"St John's Ambulance responded to the incident but was unable to access the roof," it said.

Flames prevented paramedics from reaching the man who collapsed on the roof of his home in suburban Hovea on Perth's eastern fringe.

"Despite assistance from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) in getting onto the roof, the man passed away at the scene."

Hundreds of residents fled their homes for evacuation centres and were anxiously awaiting news on Monday. Some said they had only seconds to escape.

"We obviously knew that the fire was moving pretty quickly," Stoneville resident Aaron Miles told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Officials said the blaze had been contained but not controlled and warned that there was still a risk to life and property if conditions shifted. There were 275 firefighters still battling the flames.

The state fire service said in a statement on Monday that the number of homes being destroyed was expected to rise as damage assessments continued.

They also warned people to stay away from their homes as “the conditions in the area could be very dangerous.”

Wildfires are a common feature of Australia's December-February summer months, with a devastating firestorm in 2009 killing 173 people and razing thousands of homes in southeastern Victoria state.

Unseasonably early infernos broke out in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney in October, destroying more than 200 homes and claiming two lives.

The heat is now expected to move east across the continent, with temperatures in excess of 40 degrees forecast in Adelaide and Melbourne later this week.

382

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.