| 25.11,11. 07:54 AM |
Homes destroyed in Western Australia bushfire emergency
November 25, 2011
FIFTY-FIVE people have been rescued by jet ski after being stranded on the beach in the middle of a fire that has destroyed 30 homes
Residents in the Western Australia town of Prevelly waited on the beach as a fire raged around them.
They were rescued by jet ski, which took them to a waiting search and rescue craft offshore, after a huge bushfire swept through the hamlet. Firefighting controllers feared more houses would be lost as high temperatures and strong winds fanned flames, with six waterbombing aircraft working through the night.
People in the region - the surrounding areas of Margaret River - have been told to "hang in there" as the bushfire continues to burn out of control.
The homes have been destroyed since Wednesday after a long-running prescribed burn jumped from a national park and tore through a coastal strip west of the Margaret River township.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from the area.
Yesterday, more than 400 firefighters fought the huge blaze in "volatile" weather conditions - with strong winds driving flames that destroyed at least 30 homes in WA's southwest.
Elsewhere, firefighters were battling six other blazes - at least three of which were threatening homes - including one in Perth's east.
The worst fire in the Margaret River region burnt more than 2000ha after firefighters lost control of a hazard reduction burn on Wednesday.
A catastrophic fire warning yesterday closed schools as blazes burned near Denmark, Manjimup, Martin, Nannup, Rockingham and Iluka, with unconfirmed reports of at least one serious injury.
Residents in a 100sq km area have been advised to leave or be ready to defend their properties, with wind gusting to 65km/h.
Fifty-five people stranded on a beach in the coastal town of Prevelly had to be rescued by jetski, which took them to a waiting search and rescue craft offshore, after a huge bushfire swept through the hamlet. Firefighting controllers feared more houses would be lost as high temperatures and strong winds fanned flames, with six waterbombing aircraft working through the night.
WA parliament yesterday heard that just nine of the 55 recommendations of the damning Keelty Report - which examined February's Perth Hills bushfire in which 72 homes were destroyed - had been implemented in time for the official start of the bushfire season on December 1.
Last night there were reports that firefighters were "holding back" a massive blaze threatening Margaret's Beach Resort in Gnarabup.
Hundreds of residents and holidaymakers had to evacuate the nearby coastal hamlets of Ellensbrook and Prevelly, where authorities confirmed at least 20 homes, nine holiday cottages and five sheds had been destroyed by flames.
While conditions worsening, hospital patients and residents of a nursing home were evacuated from Margaret River to Busselton.
Incident controller Roger Armstrong said firefighters had suffered "fairly serious setbacks" in containing the blaze yesterday as flames jumped the Margaret River.
Mr Armstrong said there was a high likelihood of further property losses in Prevelly.
He warned: "I'm pretty sure we will get some houses damaged to some degree."
Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia chief Wayne Gregson confirmed the fire that hit Ellensbrook and Prevelly was caused by embers from a prescribed burn but stressed that there had been no deaths or injuries from the fire.