Firefighters are still working to control a blaze that destroyed 49 homes and two sheds in the Perth hills, with authorities warning strong winds could cause a flare-up.
“I can confirm that 52 properties have been destroyed by the fire over the course of the last two days,” DFES Superintendent Gary Baxter told ABC radio on Tuesday.
He said the fire was most likely due to a power pole.
“All our indicators and our investigation team have led us to believe that,” Mr Baxter said.
The blaze, which tore through 650 hectares in the Shire of Mundaring on Sunday, was contained on Monday.
However, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) says firefighters are still battling to get it fully under control.
A watch and act alert remains on Tuesday for the eastern part of Parkerville, Stoneville and Mount Helena, DFES said.
“Firefighters are expecting strong gusty south westerly winds during the evening, easing in the early morning,” the agency added in a statement.
“The strong gusty winds could cause flare ups.”
Volunteer firefighter Ian Davis posted from a Parkerville property the firefighters were trying to save.
He said after taking the photo the flames reached the canopy “seconds later”, giving a flame height of 20 metres.
“Once the front had passed we moved on to the next defendable property on the road. Some homes were already lost. Others we saved.”
Four people who were feared missing in the blaze were accounted for on Monday, with the only fatality remaining a 62-year-old man in Hovea who collapsed on the roof of his house on Sunday while preparing for the fire.
One resident tried to get back to their house on Monday afternoon and suffered burns to their hands and feet.
People who lost their homes are expected to be escorted to the ruins later on Tuesday.
Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) said it was waiting to assess the entire disaster zone.
“We should have limited access back in by Wednesday,” FESA’s Craig Waters told Macquarie Radio in Sydney.
“One of the issues we do have is working with western power. They do have 140 power poles to replace, so we’re still working through that process.”
The WA government will donate $1 million to the Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund to help victims.
It will also provide $3000 to those whose homes had been destroyed and $1000 for damaged houses.
Attorney-General George Brandis says the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment will also be provided to eligible residents.
People can claim a payment of $1000 per adult and $400 for each child.
Insurers have declared the fire a catastrophic event.
Some survivors posted from their homes after the front had passed. Nathan Dobbie said his family was metres away from losing everything.