PM offers support after fatal fires destroy homes, school

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has expressed his support for those devastated by the fires at Esperance in Western Australia which have already claimed four lives.

"Lucy & I join all Australians in expressing our love & solidarity for the families who lost loved ones in the terrible fires at Esperance,'' Mr Turnbull tweeted a short time ago.

WA Premier Colin Barnett also said he was "very sorry, devastated to see the loss of four lives in these fires near Esperance.

"There are multiple fires and they are still out of control.

"But having just sat through with the emergency meeting, I've got absolute confidence that fire and emergency services, the police, all the other agencies are working very closely together and I'm sure they will bring the situation under control, weather permitting.

"Obviously fires have been a major issue. I think we would probably go back to Dwellingup in the early 1960s to see more loss of lives. I think Dwellingup was about six or seven people from memory.

"There are reports there could be up to six [fatalities] at this stage. I think four have been confirmed. Three houses have been destroyed and I guess you cannot rule out [more] but at the moment the view is there are four [fatalities].

There have been reports that three homes and the primary school at Scaddan have been destroyed by the fire.

Earlier on Tuesday, WA Police confirmed four people had died in the fires and said five disaster victim identification officers would fly to the area.

Fire and Emergency Services Regional Superintendent Trevor Tasker said the blaze at Salmon Gums was the worst he had ever seen.

"The wind and weather conditions ... there was no stopping it," he said.

Two of those killed are believed to be a farmer and one of his workers from Salmon Gums.

Superintendent Tasker said they are thought to have they crashed a car while trying to flee their farm.

The ABC is reporting there are four fires burning in the region, but the two most serious are burning at Grass Patch and Salmon Gums, 100 kilometres north of Esperance and at Stockyard Creek, 25 kilometres east of the town.

 

Fairfax reported that a "catastrophic fire danger' warning is in place for the Shire of Esperance with three major bushfires sparked by lightning burning in Western Australia's south.

Emergency warnings have been issued for Stockyard Creek and Mullett Lakes in the Merivale area, as well as Grass Patch and Salmon Gums.

The North Cascade fire has burnt about 300,000 hectares and is burning out of control in a north-easterly direction.

The fire is now burning on both sides of the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway between Scaddan and Salmon Gums.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Service said all available resources in the town are fighting both blazes.

Two smaller fires are also burning at Thomas River and Mt Rugged in the Cape Arid National Park, but they are not threatening property.

 

Warning issued at 4.11am

A bushfire EMERGENCY WARNING remains for people in the the Stockyard Creek and Mullet Lakes in Merivale in the Shire of Esperance. The area is bounded by Fisheries Road, Jim Ovens Road, Dunn Rock Road, the Esperance coastline and Kirwan Road in the Shire of Esperance.

• You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes.

• The fire started south of Merivale Road and west of Anni's Lane. It is burning near Tyrell Road.

BUSHFIRE BEHAVIOUR:

• The bushfire is now contained but not controlled, it is stationary.

• Firefighters are expecting the wind to change to westerly, which may impact the fire and push it in an easterly direction.

WHAT TO DO:

• If the way is clear, leave now for a safer place.

• Do not wait and see, leaving at the last minute is deadly.

• If your plan is to stay and actively defend, do not rely on mains water pressure as it may be affected. If you have access to a water tank and plan to defend your home, start patrolling with your hose and put out spot fires.

• If you cannot leave, you need to get ready to shelter in your home and actively defend it.

• If you are not at home, it is too dangerous now to return.

SAFER PLACE:

• Your safest option may be to visit family or friends who live away from the area.

• The Department for Child Protection and Family Support has also set up a temporary evacuation centre at the Esperance Civic Centre on Council Place.

SAFEST ROUTE:

• If you are relocating, it is safest to leave in a direction away from the fire.

ALERT LEVEL:

A bushfire WATCH AND ACT has been issued for people between Fisheries Road, Backmans Road and Eld Road in Merivale in the Shire of Esperance.

• There is a possible threat to lives and homes as a fire is approaching the area and conditions are changing.

• You need to leave or get ready to actively defend.

WHAT TO DO:

• If you are not prepared or you plan to leave, leave now if the way is clear.

• If you are well prepared and plan to actively defend your home, make final preparations now.

• Do not rely on mains water pressure as it may be affected. If you have access to a water tank and plan to defend your home, start patrolling with your hose and put out spot fires.

• If you are not at home, do not try to return as conditions in the area could be very dangerous.

ROAD CLOSURES:

Avoid the area and be aware of fire and other emergency services personnel working on site.

A number of roads have been closed including:

• Tyrell Road

• Jim Ovens Road

• Merivale Road between Fisheries Road and Jim Ovens Road

Road information may also be available from Main Roads WA by calling 138 138 or visiting www.mainroads.wa.gov.au

WHAT FIREFIGHTERS ARE DOING:

• Firefighters are protecting homes.

EXTRA INFORMATION:

• The fire was reported at 3pm on Sunday 15 November

• Approximately 15,000 hectares have been burnt.

• The cause of the fire is lightning.

• DFES is managing the fire. 


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