SYDNEY (Reuters) – Hundreds of firefighters battled an out-of-control bushfire near Western Australia’s capital Perth on Sunday, prompting authorities to urge residents in the path of the blaze to flee.
More than 25 bushfires were burning across the vast state on Sunday, with residents in the rural Gingin and Chittering counties, about 60 km (37 miles) north of Perth, at risk from the fast-moving blaze, firefighters said.
A high-risk bushfire season is underway in Australia due to an El Nino weather event, associated with events such as cyclones, droughts, heatwaves and wildfires.
A spokesperson for the state Department of Fire and Emergency Services said 240 firefighters were battling the blaze, which was at emergency level, the highest threat level.
“If the coast is clear, move now to a safer location,” the agency said on its website.
The fire, which ravaged 417 hectares of bush, broke out on Saturday.
The national weather forecaster issued an “extreme fire danger” warning for parts of Western Australia state on Sunday, amid a heatwave alert in effect since Saturday.
In Perth, a maximum temperature of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) was forecast, more than three degrees above the city’s average January maximum, according to meteorologist data.
Australia’s last two fire seasons have been quiet compared to the devastating “black summer” of 2019-20, which leveled an area the size of Turkey and killed 33 people.
(Reporting by Sam McKeith in Sydney; editing by Michael Perry)
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