UK & World News

  • 13 January 2014, 10:44

Australian Bushfires: Man Dies Protecting Home

A man has died trying to defend his house from bushfires in Western Australia which have destroyed more than 40 homes.

The 62-year-old man was on the roof of his property when he collapsed and died.

Emergency crews in the Perth suburb of Hovea were unable to reach him because of the flames.

Two firefighters had to be treated for heat exhaustion as crews battled blazes along the west coast where temperatures reached 43C (109F) in Perth on Saturday, the city's hottest day in six years.

Heatwave temperatures are forecast for much of Australia this week.

Scores of firefighters have been joined by water-bombing aircraft crew to fight blazes as embers caused spot fires in the tinder-dry conditions.

The massive fire, which blazed through communities near Mundaring, east of Perth, was contained overnight on Sunday, but is still not under control.

Authorities say 44 homes have been destroyed, although that figure could rise.

One resident in Chidlow told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "There are embers coming down like ash - we are getting the hell out of here.

"We are taking the animals, some clothes and the tax files in a box and we are leaving everything else. If it burns, it doesn't matter."

As more reports of damage emerged, the premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, attended a community meeting of 600 people affected by the fires.

Mr Barnett has cut short his annual leave to deal with the aftermath of the fires, including an assistance package for victims.

Photographs of the damaged properties will be shown to residents to confirm their loss, before they are taken to the ruins.

"This is the nightmare that everyone knows can happen. Yesterday was just catastrophic fire conditions, the heat the night before, the heat in the day and the wind,'' said the state's Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis.

"It is ugly, and a catastrophe for this community. I have got very good (firefighter) mates up there hoping they can knock it off this morning."

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Two evacuation centres have been set up for people whose homes have been destroyed or damaged.

:: Watch Sky News live on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.

Advertisement