/ 03 February 2021

Western Australia’s dual emergencies

More than 59 homes have been lost to a bushfire burning out of control across 15 suburbs northeast of Perth. The conditions have been terrible with high temperatures and strong winds creating spot fires 3.5km ahead of the front at times. Adding to the situation’s complexity is evacuating residents who are unsure about where they’re allowed to go given it’s in the COVID lockdown zone. Premier Mark McGowan yesterday acknowledged the seriousness of events. “Right now WA is battling two different kinds of emergencies,” he said.

Roger that. Kicking off on Monday afternoon from an unknown cause, the fire has burned through 9,000 hectares within an 80km perimeter. It was so intense yesterday that residents 50km from the fire front reported ash falling from the sky. Reports of significant property losses in the rural area of Tilden Park in Gidgegannup will see authorities check that everyone got out alive when it’s safe. Emergency warnings are in place across parts of the Perth Hills as conditions continue to be hot and windy. Some evacuating residents said they were confused about where they were allowed to go given the lockdown currently in force. “It’s 3 o’clock in the morning, we’re on lockdown, can we go to family, can we go to friends?” one resident asked. Authorities yesterday advised people to go to evacuation centres or to the homes of family/friends.

It was donuts again yesterday. Premier McGowan says the lockdown will remain in place this week, but it’s his expectation it will end on Friday evening if tests continue to confirm no new cases. And there was some insight yesterday about how the quarantine hotel security guard contracted COVID – he’d delivered medicine to a returned traveller who had the highly infectious UK variant of the virus.

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