News State Western Australia News Rain quenches Perth Hills bushfire crisis. Now the threat is flooding and high winds

Rain quenches Perth Hills bushfire crisis. Now the threat is flooding and high winds

The longed-for rains arrived too late to save this Perth Hills property. Photo: AAP/Claire Staford
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Weary Perth Hils firefighters are rejoicing after rain quenched fires in the charred Perth Hills, where authorities have downgraded the threat to homes and lives.

The blaze had already destroyed at last 86 homes and burnt through about 11,000 hectares. About 300 properties are still without power with the fire causing significant damage to electricity infrastructure.

While almost 150 firefighters remain on the scene, mopping up and strengthening containment lines, their delight in the rain’s arrival may be premature, with the Bureau of meteorology predicting wild weather and possible flooding.

Deputy incident controller Greg Mair said the blaze was now officially considered contained and controlled, allowing a number of roads across the region to reopen and some locals granted limited access to their properties.

But now come heavy rain and damaging winds are set to hit southwest Western Australia as an intense low-pressure system moves across the state.

Wind gusts of more than 100 km/h and isolated rainfall totals of up to 100mm are possible across Sunday and into Monday.

Flood waters inundate farm land after the flooding Gasgoyne River broke its banks. Photo: ABC

Parts of the midwest Gascoyne, Perth, the southwest, lower southwest and the Great Southern region will feel the brunt of the severe weather.

Locations that may be affected include Bunbury, Manjimup, Margaret River, Walpole, Yanchep and the Perth Metropolitan area.

It comes after a “once-in-10-year” flooding event over the Gascoyne region developed on Saturday, with aerial shots showing parts of the region completely covered by water and just the tops of trees and buildings visible.

Premier Mark McGowan said he’d been advised such a significant flooding had not been seen in the region since 2010.

On Sunday, the Bureau said the low-pressure system was located 80km southwest of Geraldton and is expected to pass west of Perth on Sunday evening before crossing the southwest corner of the state during Monday morning.

Tides are also likely to be higher than predicted along the west coast north of Augusta, bring the potential for flooding of low-lying coastal areas.

The high-intensity storm bearing down on WA’s south-west corner. Map: BoM

Flood watches and warnings are current for river catchments across the Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne and Central West Districts.

The heaviest rainfall recorded to 1am on Sunday included 76mm at Hill River Springs, 74mm at Moora and 64mm at Lancelin East.

The highest wind gusts were 100km/h at Gooseberry Hill and 94km/h at Bickley.

Since 9am on Friday, emergency services have responded to more than 83 calls for assistance.

Mr McGowan said the severe weather came after a challenging week with parts of the state also enduring a five-day lockdown because of a coronavirus outbreak, and bushfires in the Perth hills.

– with AAP