Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Australian residents urged to flee 'house-high' wildfires

Terra Daily via Agence France-Presse: Australian officials urged residents to evacuate a wheat farming district in the west of the country Tuesday as towering wildfires with flames higher than rooftops threatened homes. People in the Dandaragan area north of Perth were told to flee immediately as the fast-moving and out-of-control blaze, fanned by "catastrophic" conditions in Western Australia, showered embers.

"Homes will be impacted by fire. People in this area need to relocate now," the state's Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) warned in a statement. "The bushfire is moving fast in a southeast direction. It is out of control. Embers are likely to be blown around your home. Flames are higher than rooftops," it added.

Residents in nearby Toodyay were also evacuated as an intense fire broke out there, threatening at least seven homes in the town of about 400 people, FESA said. "It is out of control, unpredictable and fast moving," it said. "Spot fires are starting ahead of the fire. Flames are one to two metres high."

The fire authority said evacuation offered the best option for survival, warning that "relocating at the last minute is deadly". It was uncertain how many homes were in the evacuation zones, FESA said. "It would mainly be farmhouses," a spokesman told AFP. "Pretty sparse and mainly farming communities…

A bushfire in Berrimah, Australia from 2003, shot by kenhodge13, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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