A bushfire burning since Sunday night in Upper Swan, on Perth’s north-east fringe, has been contained after coming within metres of homes.
The fire continues to move slowly west, and authorities say while they have managed to contain the blaze it is not yet controlled.
Weather conditions were forecast to deteriorate on later on Monday with a south-westerly wind change, but the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has been downgraded the alert level to a watch and act.
The alert still applies to an area bounded by the intersection of Warbrook Road and Great Northern Highway, east to the Avon River, Wooroloo Brook, south to Connemara Drive East, west to Campersic Road, Camargue Drive, the Swan River and the intersection of Great Northern Highway and West Swan Road, and east of Great Northern Highway.
People are still being told to avoid the area and not try to return home as a possible threat remains.
DFES incident controller Craig Garrett said there had been very little property damage, with some fencing lost.
But he urged people to remain vigilant.
“With the south-west wind change that’s coming in … it will come in with quite a lot of gust and put a lot of pressure on that eastern flank,” he said.
“You’ll have embers that could potentially be thrown over that eastern flank which could cause a hop or a break away and in that country very difficult to catch.”
About 150 firefighters have spent the day at the scene of the blaze, which has encroached on Walyunga National Park.
The area is home to hobby and equestrian farms.
Flames reached up to six metres high and burning embers had started spot fires up to 150 metres ahead of the blaze.
But with conditions having eased, a temporary evacuation centre set up at the Altone Park Leisure Centre in Beechboro has been closed.
‘You’ve got five minutes to grab your stuff’
Resident Darren Marshall, who lives on Copley Road, said the fire flared up about 1:00am on Monday.
“We came out [of the house] to have a look and we could see the red glow coming over the hill,” he said.
“I said to my son, ‘get your brother up, we’re off’. Got the wife, the dog and the kids and we took off.
“The fire brigade pulled into the driveway [as we were leaving] and said you’ve got five minutes to grab your stuff and get out of here, so we took off down to my brother-in-law’s place down the road.
“As we left the flames were coming over the hill so we thought our place was gone.
“If you have a look around the house you can see how close the fire came. The flames wrapped around the back of the house, so the firefighters did a fantastic job.”
Hot weather with Perth hitting 35C hampers efforts
About 123 hectares have been burnt so far, with high temperatures in Perth – where the temperature reached 35.3 degrees Celsius at 1:30pm – making conditions difficult for fire crews.
Mr Garrett said the next few days could also prove testing.
“We’re looking at 39 degrees tomorrow and on Wednesday, strong winds, back to a north easterly by tomorrow morning but [there’ll be] pressure on those containment lines,” he said.
“So the planning is for the next two or three days, we’ll have crews on the fire ground patrolling and mopping up so we don’t have an escape from the fire.
“The hard work’s only just begun … the volunteers may be here for two weeks patrolling to make sure that we don’t have an escape from a flare up.”
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, however Arson Squad officers are investigating.