FIRE is threatening homes and lives in Hopetoun on the southeast coast as WA braces for a severe fire day with a “catastrophic’’ risk in some parts with searing temperatures and high winds.
At least 13 schools have been closed in districts facing severe fire conditions with the Education Department saying children could not be guaranteed safety in the event of a major fire. The unusual conditions are tipped to bring extreme heat to much of the southern half of the state, with many regions facing temperatures close to 40C or beyond.
There is also a total fire ban for the metropolitan area, with Perth reaching already 36C, with even higher temperatures in the Hills.
BUSHFIRE THREATENS HOPETOUN
A bushfire Emergency Warning has been issued for people in Hopetoun, on the south east coast, where an out-of-control fire is threatening houses in a new estate and firefighters are battling horrific conditions, with the temperature reaching 38C before midday with gusting northerly winds.
The fire was reported just before 9am and is moving fast in a southerly direction at about 18km/h. The blaze is “out of control and unpredictable’’ with flames up to 1.5 metres high, DFES said.
“Firefighters are expecting the wind to shift from north easterly to south westerly at noon,’’ the DFES warning said.
“Homes are not designed or constructed to withstand a fire in today’s conditions.’’
Hopetoun Primary School has not been evacuated but staff and students are packed and prepared to leave if necessary when advised by emergency services.
Parents have been told they can collect their children.
The blaze is burning near Buegge Road and Springdale Road in Hopetoun and is burning towards a small housing estate.
The alert is for people in a boundary of Dotterel Road, Pardalote Parade, Swamp Road and Carnaby Close.
You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes.
Homes in Dotterel Road, Pardalote Parade, Swamp Road and Carnaby Closeare under threat by fire now.
- A second fire is burning in Forest Grove, Margaret River, with a Watch and Act alert issued an area bounded by Brooks Road, Rocky Road, Holland Road and Warner Glen Road in Forest Grove.
- A bushfire that was burning 45km west of Newman in the Pilbara has been contained and is under control.
CATASTROPHIC FIRE RISK
A Catastrophic Fire Danger is forecast for the following fire weather districts: Central Wheat Belt, Gascoyne Inland, Inland Central West-South, Stirling Inland, Upper Great Southern, Roe and Lakes.
Temperatures across much of the southern half are tipped to reach 40C or beyond, with Albany on the south coast facing an almost unheard of 40C maximum.
The extreme fire conditions follow Monday’s searing heat in Perth, when the temperature peaked at 37C and a number of fires pushed firefighters to the limit.
ALBANY FACING 40C SCORCHER
The conditions are thought to be similar to the extreme weather conditions which led to the Esperance fire which claimed four lives in November 2015.
A low pressure trough is expected to bring hot, gusty northerly winds to much of the southern half of the state, creating extreme fire conditions throughout the region.
State forecast: Evening thunderstorms possible over the western Central Wheat Belt, adjacent Central West, western Great Southern adjacent Lower West and Southwest, and western South Coastal district. Hot and windy in the inland Gascoyne, Goldfields and through much of the South West Land Division.
On the South Coast Albany is tipped to reach 40C, Denmark 39C, Bremer Bay and Gnowangerup 40C, Esperance 37C, Ravensthorpe 38C and Hopetoun 39C.
In the Great Southern, Hyden, 41C,Corrigin, 40C, Narrogin and Katanning 39C are facing extreme conditions, with possible late storms and windy conditions
In the Central Wheatbelt Cunderdin and Kellerberrin are expecting 41C and Merredin, Wongan Hills and York 40C and windy.
CATASTROPHIC WEATHER SITUATION
The Bureau of Meteorology issued an explanation of the extreme weather.
Weather conditions for Tuesday and Wednesday are predicted to produce dangerous fire weather conditions for the Gascoyne and southern WA. These conditions will extend into the Goldfields and Eucla on Wednesday.
- For today, we are predicting catastrophic fire conditions for the Central Wheat Belt, and parts of the Gascoyne, Central West, Great Southern and South Coastal districts. Severe or extreme fire danger ratings are predicted for other inland parts of the South West Land Division and the Gascoyne
- A severe fire weather rating is expected for Albany, which may break a November temperature record if it gets to its predicted maximum of 40C. Esperance is predicted to have a maximum of 37C and an extreme fire weather danger rating is predicted for them today.
- A trough of low pressure located from the Gascoyne to the South Coast will move slowly eastwards during the day, leading to strong, gusty northerly winds on its eastern side.
- These northerly winds will drag very hot and dry air into the area, and this combination of low humidities, very high temperatures and strong winds will lead to the catastrophic fire danger rating.
- Temperatures yesterday reached 42C in Geraldton, and temperatures of 40C or more are again predicted in some parts of the South West Land Division. Wind gusts in excess of 50km/h are also expected.
- Wednesday, the trough will move eastwards, and much cooler weather accompanied by rain and possible thunderstorms will move in from the west.
- This will lead to an easing of fire weather conditions for much of the South West Land Division, with the exception of far eastern parts, as well as the Goldfields and Eucla, where it is possible that dangerous fire weather conditions will persist until late in the day.A Fire Weather Warning has been issued for the Central Wheat Belt, Great Southern, Inland Central West, South Coastal, South East Coastal, Gascoyne Inland, Goldfields, Eucla and Lower
Hot and dry with fresh to strong and gusty northerly winds.
Extreme Fire Danger is forecast for the following fire weather districts: Esperance Shire and Inland Central West — North
Severe Fire Danger is forecast for the following fire weather districts: Ravensthorpe Shire, Goldfields, Eucla, Lower West Inland, Stirling Coast and Beaufort.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services advises you to:
Action your Bushfire Survival Plan now. Monitor the fire and weather situation through your local radio station, www.dfes.wa.gov.au and www.bom.gov.au.
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