The emergency warning area for the out-of-control bushfire burning north-east of Perth has been reduced as hundreds of firefighters enter their fifth day battling the blaze.
There were more difficult conditions for crews overnight as they fought to save homes, with strong winds and gusts of up to 80km/h.
But authorities have reviewed and reduced the size of the warning area, and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said many suburbs under threat on Thursday were no longer at risk.
The wind has been consistently blowing from the east-south-east, allowing firefighters to focus their efforts on the north-western side of the fire, which has already destroyed 81 homes.
DFES incident controller Peter Sutton said Thursday night was not without its challenges.
“Overnight we had gusty east-south-easterlies over the fire ground which put pressure on the northern flank, which is what we expected,” he said on Friday.
“We ended up having running fire out near Clenton Road and Ewing Road in Gidgegannup where crews were actively defending about four or five properties.
“I’m pleased to say there were no properties damaged or lost up there overnight which is a great outcome.”
The emergency warning now applies to parts of Avon Valley National Park, Bailup, Belhus, Brigadoon, Bullsbrook, Ellenbrook, Gidgegannup, The Vines, Upper Swan and Walyunga National Park, in the Shire of Mundaring and the City of Swan.
Residents in Clenton and Berry roads in Gidgegannup as well as people in Shady Hills estate and east Bullsbrook remain in the immediate danger area and need to take shelter.
‘We’re fairly confident with today’: DFES
Superintendent Sutton said confidence about the firefighting effort was rising.
“The great positive out of this is there has been no loss of human life, so [while it’s] tragic there’s been 81 houses lost and a lot of animal loss, no loss of human life is a great outcome,” he said.
“We’re fairly confident with today, the conditions are fairly strong in terms of the easterly winds.
“Most of the western boundary has been tested but there still is a chance around Shady Hills and Walyunga, the Avon Ridge that we could have breakouts.
“We’ve had breakouts from containment lines several days after fires if the wind conditions are right, so we’ll really be concentrating our efforts on those western areas today.
“Firefighters and machinery will work to consolidate containment lines throughout today.”
Residents may be able to return
About 200 firefighters continued to battle the blaze overnight, down from 500 on Thursday.
The blaze has burned through close to 11,000 hectares of land but better weather conditions for fire crews are expected in the coming days, including forecast rain.
“We’re getting cooler temperatures with higher humidity over the next five days, which will certainly help,” Superintendent Sutton said.
“The effort now is really focused on getting people back to their properties.
“We’ve got 240 kilometres of various roadways through this fire that need to be cleared and walked to make sure there’s no hazards.
“We’re just asking people to be patient, we’re doing the best we can to ease road closures back in closer to the fire so we can get as many people back in to their homes.”
Second fire declared suspicious
Authorities said a separate fire, which started 10 kilometres north of the main Wooroloo fire on Thursday afternoon but has been contained and controlled, was being treated as suspicious.
“I’d like to get a message out that that fire is suspicious, so if anyone does have any information on that fire or dash-cam footage, could they please call Crime Stoppers,” Superintendent Sutton said.
“Really quite astounding that someone would possibly light a fire on a total fire ban day or any day in these conditions, with such a large fire still quite precarious so close.”
“We had to divert at least 40 appliances [and] it resulted in the extension of the emergency warning area.”
About 800 homes and businesses remain without power as a result of the main bushfire.
Evacuation centres remain set up at Brown Park Recreation Complex in Swan View, Swan Active Midland and Beechboro Community Hub.
More than 900 people have registered with the Red Cross’s Register, Find, Reunite service, which allows people to register that they are safe so their friends and family can check on them remotely.