News State Western Australia News Four confirmed dead in out-of-control bushfires

Four confirmed dead in out-of-control bushfires

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WA fire and emergency services commissioner Wayne Gregson has urged communities near the state’s south coast to stay aware of bushfire conditions after the loss of four lives.

Several fires are raging near Esperance, a coastal area known for its fertile agricultural land.

The unidentified victims were found in the fire area near Esperance, Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Commissioner Wayne Gregson told reporters on Wednesday.

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He could not confirm reports of two additional deaths in the fires on Wednesday, but said two males and two females had perished in two separate cars early on Wednesday, with an investigation to follow.

“It’s unconfirmed at this stage, but I understand there was a single male occupant in one vehicle and three other deceased in another vehicle,” Mr Gregson said.

“I can comment very little on the circumstances at this point in time, other than to say that there’s both a police and department of fire and emergencies investigation as to the cause of the deaths.

“I can also record that at this stage there are three houses or buildings unconfirmed as being lost in those fires around Esperance.”

There were unconfirmed reports later in the day that one of the men who died was a local farmer who had been warning his neighbours to evacuate, according to the ABC.

Mr Gregson said conditions at Esperance on Tuesday had been “particularly difficult” in “catastrophic fire conditions”.

The “entire community of WA” should make last minute preparations for the dry season.

“I understand some of the winds behind the fire yesterday pushed it to 25 kilometres per hour over 100 kilometres,” he added.

“They are unstoppable in catastrophic fire conditions despite the best endeavours of all those trying to combat the fire.”

WA police do not believe the fires were deliberately lit.

Disaster Victim Identification authorities, Arson Squad detectives and Kalgoorlie District officers planned to fly to the fire zone on Wednesday.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) attended 111 incidents over the past couple of days.

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

The fires were started by lightning strikes on Monday.

A wind change overnight pushed flames north towards the small community of Salmon Gums.

Firefighters were working to protect the township, strengthening containment lines to the south of town as the fire front bears down.

– with ABC

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