People living in residential developments near a dangerous bushfire north of Perth are unable to return home as authorities brace for scorching weather in coming days.
The Red Gully blaze, which sparked on Saturday, has burned through some 9500 hectares in the Gingin and Dandaragan shires.
An emergency warning remains in place for some local communities, with the greatest concern held for residential developments at Ocean Farms Estate and nearby Seaview Park.
“Residents of Ocean Farms Estate and Seaview Park are unable to return home currently,” the WA fire department said in a statement on Thursday morning.
“Forecast very hot, dry and windy weather conditions over the next two days have the potential to rapidly escalate fire behaviour.”
The temperature in the area is forecast to reach 42C on Friday.
Firefighters on Wednesday managed to halt the western flank of the fire about three kilometres from Ocean Farms Estate.
Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said there was still a considerable amount of work to be done in the face of more hot, dry and windy conditions in the days ahead.
“The next two or three days are going to be particularly challenging for fire services,” he said.
“These conditions are not something we’ve seen for the last two or three years.
“There hasn’t been that typical strong easterly weather that we’ve been experiencing the last four days with gusts of up to 80 kilometres an hour.
“It makes it incredibly difficult for firefighters.
“Not only is it not safe to put firefighters at the head of the fire in those types of circumstances but it’s also incredibly difficult once fire hops over, to be able to get around and put it out.”
There have been no reports of homes being lost, but pine plantations, olive groves and some sheds are believed to have been damaged.
About 200 firefighters are battling the blaze with strong aerial support, including two of the large air tankers flown in from Victoria.
Planning is underway to bring fresh firefighters from the Pilbara and Kimberley regions as well as from other cooler parts of WA if needed.
Premier Mark McGowan has called on everyone in the fire danger zones to remain vigilant.
“I urge all Western Australians to understand and acknowledge that this is a dangerous period,” he said.