Authorities have issued an emergency warning for a bushfire in the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, around 285 km (177 miles) northwest of Albany, in Western Australia’s South West Region on December 8th. The fire started near the intersection of Caves Road and Calgardup Road in Boranup and the alert level for the fire has been upgraded as the fire is escalating in heavy fuels. The fire is approximately 100 hectares (247 acres) in size and more than 100 personnel are on-site battling the blaze.
As of late December 8th, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has issued the following warnings:
- Emergency Warning: in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park south of Redgate Road, east to Caves Road and south to Sebbes Road and north of Point Road.
- Watch and Act: in areas bounded by Rainbow Cave Road to the north, Harrison and Thompson Road to the east and Sebbes road to the south.
- Advice: in areas bound by Boodjidup Road, Gnarawary Road and Bussell Highway and Sebbes Road.
DFES has warned people in the emergency warning areas to evacuate immediately if it is safe to do so. If there is no clear way to evacuate, residents should shelter in their homes, away from the fire front, and ensure that escape is possible if the opportunity arises. The DFES has also advised residents to exercise caution when driving through the advice area due to poor visibility due to the smoke. DFES may extend or rescind warnings and evacuation orders over the coming days.
Visitors have been evacuated from the Conto Campground and Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. The park is closed until further notice due to the fire. An evacuation center has been established at the Margaret River Recreation Centre.
Authorities have not provided an estimated containment date for the fire; hot and dry conditions may hamper firefighting efforts over the coming days, and additional fire growth is possible.
Transport and Utilities
The fire is causing road closures, including Caves Road between Redgate Road and Forest Grove Road. The status of roads can change over the coming hours and days; authorities could close routes within the wildfire complex and evacuate more communities due to fire activity and response operations needs. Traffic disruptions are also likely during re-entry periods after authorities lift evacuation orders. Low visibility from smoke and possible ashfall could contribute to traffic delays and congestion in the region.
Smoke and ashfall from bushfires may cause poor air quality in parts of Western Australia. Power outages and utilities that rely on electricity could experience outages within and near the bushfire complex.
Smoke from fires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees, plants, and possibly building materials. Such smoke can hurt the eyes, irritate the respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases. Smoke may also worsen symptoms for people with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
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