SYDNEY — Cooler temperatures have given the authorities the upper hand in fighting the wildfire that had killed two people and razed 143 properties in the major beef and dairy farming areas in the south west of Western Australia state.
Exhausted fire crews are now in the sixth day of battling the blaze. However, a slight change of conditions has enabled firefighters to contain the fire.
The authorities warn, however, the wildfire, or bushfire as it is commonly known in Australia, is still not controlled, fearing it will take months to be extinguished from smoldering underground peat.
“Don’t be mistaken… whilst we’ve got favorable conditions at the moment, we’re going to have to deal with jumpouts of fires for months ahead,” local Western Australia state politician Murray Cowper told reporters on Monday.
“Given the wide scope of the fire, it’s in all manner of country including swamp country, and deep forests.”
“There’ll be trees that’ll be smoldering for months on end and until we get that winter drizzling rain, this fire won’t be out and we’ll be living with the potential of further outbreaks.
“This is a real tragedy, and it’s going to take a lot of cleaning up.”
The blaze has been surging since it was ignited by a lightning strike on Wednesday morning, burning more than 72,000 hectares of land and destroying upwards of 143 buildings, including 128 homes, forcing a state of emergency to be declared.
The remains of two men, aged 73 and 77-year-old, were found by the authorities searching burnt out buildings in historic timber mining town of Yarloop on Saturday. Local media is reporting more than 80 percent of the town has been destroyed by the fire in scenes described as “surreal”.
Four firefighters have been injured in the blaze while reinforcements from New South Wales state are now assisting crews.
Overnight the fire came within two kilometers of the dairy farming town of Harvey, which “dodged a bullet” from the change in conditions and containment work by the authorities.
Dairy producers had been forced to dump thousands of liters of milk following road closures on Thursday that prevented transport tankers from accessing farms while power losses halted operations.
Wildfires are an annual summer event in Australia, however, the authorities have been on high alert since September last year over unseasonably warm temperatures, prompting scientists and climate activists to speculate climate change could be extending an increasing the intensity of the fire season.
Four people tragically died in a series of wildfires sparked by lightning in Western Australia state in November last year, while most recently more than 100 homes were destroyed along Australia’s Great Ocean Road in Victoria state over the Christmas period. PNA/Xinhua / northboundasia.com