Hundreds of firefighters battling a blaze that has destroyed 71 homes on Perth’s outskirts are being told to limit numbers in fire trucks, wear masks and exercise social distancing as part of the WA government’s COVID-19 restrictions. The fire, which started on Monday, is burning about 30km (18.5 miles) east of central Perth. Smoke from the blaze smothered the city on Tuesday, turning skies a hazy orange and at times raining ash over suburban homes.
Hundreds of Australians have spent a night in evacuation centres as a fire on the outskirts of the locked-down city of Perth continues to grow. The blaze – the largest the city has seen in years – has burnt through 9,000 hectares, destroying 71 homes. Six firefighters have suffered injuries. Fire services were expecting further challenging conditions on Wednesday. They urged communities in the path of the blaze to prepare to leave or take shelter. A five-day coronavirus lockdown in Perth – due to end on Friday – has complicated matters, causing initial confusion over safety advice for the city’s two million residents. Western Australia (WA) state officials have urged people to prioritise their immediate safety over the virus risk, which is considered very low. Perth entered a snap lockdown over just one locally acquired infection. Officials have urged people to wear masks and self-isolate where possible at evacuation centres.