Friday, January 08, 2016

95 Homes Destroyed by Wildfire in Western Australia

Local officials reported on Friday that a wildfire in Western Australia has destroyed 95 homes after it ripped through a rural town just south of Perth overnight.

Strong wind gusts have fanned the wildfire after it was ignited by a lightning strike on Tuesday morning. It has razed more than 58,000 hectares and created a fire perimeter of more than 200 kilometers.

Overnight the wildfire tore through the town of Yarloop, destroying 95 homes, a hotel, the local post office, the town's fire station and other significant buildings. Three people were reported missing earlier on Friday, but at around 5:30 p.m. (local time), authorities confirmed all three had been accounted for.

According to Western Australia Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Wayne Gregson, local officials are considering requesting their interstate counterparts for help as the wildfire still poses a threat to beef and dairy producing towns south of Perth.

Close to the fire zone, the alumina refinery of U.S.-based Alcoa Inc. is operating at a reduced capacity. The company reported on Friday that its mining activities remain suspended after it lost two of its buildings to the fire.

Wildfires are an annual summer occurrence in Australia, but authorities have been on heightened alert since September last year because of the unseasonably warm temperatures.

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