PERTH, Australia – An uncontrolled wildfire in the northeastern city of Perth on the Australian coast destroyed about 30 homes and threatened more on Tuesday, with many locals saying it was too late to flee.
The nearly 70-square-kilometer fire started Monday and erupted overnight near the town of Wurolu, and in the districts of Mundering, Sittering and Nordham.
The city of Swan was also affected. Swan Mayor Kevin Bailey said more than 30 homes were destroyed.
Mayor Bailey also said a firefighter was being treated for smoking. There would have been no other injuries.
The Western Australian State Fire and Emergency Services Department said 67 square kilometers were on fire on Tuesday.
Residents of the 25-kilometer stretch from Wurolu to Waliunga National Park northeast of Perth in the west knew it was too dangerous to leave their homes on Tuesday.
Read the final warning, “You must take refuge before the fire comes, because the intense heat will kill you long before the flames reach you.”
Roads outside the semi-rural suburb of The Wines in the northern suburbs of Perth were littered with cars trying to leave the scene.
The difficulty in getting around led some to decide not to leave the campus. 49-year-old Melissa Stall received a message telling him to leave.
“I could smell the fire, I walked behind and the whole yard was full of smoke,” he said.
“We grabbed the bed, the photos, the two kids and the dog and got out of there,” he added.
In other threatened areas, warnings told people to evacuate if they were not ready to fight the blaze.
Warnings were issued that the bushfire was unpredictable and the weather was changing rapidly.
The cause of the fire is unknown
Fire Department and Emergency Services Superintendent Peter Sutton said about 250 firefighters were misbehaving.
“It was so hard, almost impossible … to put out that fire,” Peter Sutton said.
Wildfires are common in the southern hemisphere in summer. However, this season is mild on the southeast coast of Australia, which was devastated by major fires last summer.
– See Associated Press