The spread of a dangerous bushfire burning north of Perth has been slowed but authorities fear extreme weather conditions in coming days will continue to challenge efforts to bring it under control.
The Red Gully fire has destroyed 9,500 hectares in the shires of Gingin and Dandaragan and has a perimeter of more than 100 kilometres after burning since Saturday.
An emergency warning remains in place for some local communities with most concerns held for the residential developments at Ocean Farms Estate and nearby Seaview.
People still in those areas, as well as residents at Lancelin, are strongly advised to leave if they can do so safely.
Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said the efforts of ground crews and aerial support managed to halt the western flank of the fire about three kilometres from Ocean Farms Estate.
But he said there was still a considerable amount of work to be done in the face of more hot, dry and windy conditions in the days ahead.
“The next two or three days are going to be particularly challenging for fire services,” he said.
“These conditions are not something we’ve seen for the last two or three years.
“There hasn’t been that typical strong easterly weather that we’ve been experiencing the last four days with gusts of up to 80 kilometres an hour.
“It makes it incredibly difficult for firefighters. Not only is it not safe to put firefighters at the head of the fire in those types of circumstances but it’s also incredibly difficult once fire hops over, to be able to get around and put it out.”
There have been no reports of homes being lost, but pine plantations, olive groves and some sheds are believed to have been damaged.
About 200 firefighters are battling the blaze with strong aerial support, including two of the large air tankers flown in from Victoria.
Mr Klemm said planning was also underway to bring fresh firefighters down from the Pilbara and Kimberley regions as well as from other cooler parts of WA should they be needed.
Nine fires were still burning on Wednesday fanned with conditions across those areas expected to remain very hot ahead of a cooler change on Sunday.
In other areas, a watch and act warning remains for a fire at Mundaring, east of Perth, with that blaze contained but not controlled, and bushfire advice messages are current for fires at Geraldton, north of Perth, and at Nowergup, north of the city.
Wednesday’s continuing emergency followed an easing of the danger on Monday after a string of fires threatened various areas to the north and south of Perth, on the state’s southwest coast and in the Goldfields.
Premier Mark McGowan called on everyone in the fire danger zones to remain vigilant.
“I urge all Western Australian to understand and acknowledge that this is a dangerous period,” he said.