SYDNEY – A fast-moving wildfire destroyed at least 40 homes in western Australia’s Perth, officials said Monday, with one man dying as he prepared for the approaching inferno.
The blaze, thought to have been started by a fallen power line in the city’s wooded outskirts on Sunday, was fanned by hot, strong gusts that saw 20-meter flames tear through residential streets.
Hundreds of residents fled their homes for evacuation centers and were anxiously awaiting news Monday. Some said they had only seconds to escape.
Officials said the blaze had been contained but not controlled and warned that there was still a risk to life and property if conditions shifted.
Wildfires are common in Australia’s summer, with a devastating firestorm in 2009 killing 173 people and razing thousands of homes in southeastern Victoria state.
Unseasonably early infernos broke out in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney in October, destroying more than 200 homes and claiming two lives.