News Fears for WA communities as fast-moving bushfire rages
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Fears for WA communities as fast-moving bushfire rages

Emergency warnings have been issued for the Red Gully bushfire, near Gingin, north of Perth, on Tuesday. Photo: DFES, Nikki Woods via AAP
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A fast-moving bushfire continues to rage north of Perth, threatening lives and homes as it bears down on a number on coastal communities.

The blaze has already destroyed more than 7200 hectares and is proving difficult for firefighters to contain as it burns out of control, fanned by strong easterly winds.

Authorities have particular concerns for people in the areas of Ocean Farms, Seaview, Wedge Island and Lancelin.

On Tuesday evening people in the Ocean Farms and Seaview residential areas were told to enact their bushfire plans and leave immediately.

“Your life will be in danger if you stay,” the Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned.

Other communities in the area have been told to heed the latest advice and take the appropriate action with an emergency warning message still in place.

About 270 people from Ocean Farms have already left amid concerns the fire front might not be halted before it reaches the residential area.

Those remaining have also been urged to go.

Other communities in the area have been told to heed the latest advice and take the appropriate action with an emergency warning message still in place.

Incident controller Andy Duckworth said the blaze was running at up to 3.5 kilometres an hour in challenging conditions, with high temperatures and strong, shifting winds across the fire ground.

“We do have active fire running at the moment so we’re trying to contain and control the blaze, using all of those strategies available to us, such as the air assets and ground crew,” he said.

“We’re not taking it lightly.”

An emergency warning has been issued for communities in the shires of Gingin and Dandaragan. Photo: DFES/Nikki Woods via AAP

The fire perimeter has stretched to 50 kilometres with 200 firefighters on the ground supported by up to 13 aircraft, including a large air tanker.

Officer Duckworth said particular concern were held for people living in the mainland community of Wedge Island, with authorities unable to send ground crews into the area because of the presence of unexploded ordinance from an old bombing range.

“There’s a lot of bush around there, and we’re limited in our ability to fight the fire. We can use our aircraft but not much else,” he said.

“So we’re not confident we can pull it up before it reaches Wedge Island by any means.

“That’s why we’re urging those residents to pay particular attention to the warnings.”

Gingin Shire President Wayne Fewster, also a volunteer firefighter, said the strength of the blaze was unusual.

“It’s not pleasant. It’s very difficult conditions to fight a fire,” he said.

“You think you’ve got it and the wind kicks up and it spots out and you haven’t got it, so it’s very difficult conditions.

“You’ve only got to get the wind shift a couple of degrees one way or the other and that’s when it puts a bit of pressure on the flanks and the containment lines and it jumps.”

Tuesday’s emergency followed an easing of the danger on Monday after a string of fires threatened various areas to the north and south of Perth, on the state’s south-west coast and in the Goldfields.

At one stage emergency warnings were in place for fires at Kwinana on Perth’s southern outskirts and another further south at Rockingham.

On Sunday night a fire at Gosnells, in the city’s south-east, forced authorities to move 150 nursing home residents to a nearby evacuation centre.

With very hot weather forecast until at least Sunday, Department of Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner Craig Waters said the risk of more fires was high.

“Whenever you come into a period of really hot weather coupled with extremely high easterly winds, we’re always going to be in for a world of hurt,” he said.

-AAP