Record temperatures stoke bushfires in Western Australia, arson suspected

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The temperature in Perth, Western Australia reached 44.2°C (111°F) making it the hottest December day since records commenced, and the seventh hottest day ever recorded in Perth. This combined with the yesterday's second hottest Christmas day of 40.7°C (105°F) and Monday's 35.9°C (97°F) makes this the hottest three-day Christmas period since records began.

The temperatures have hampered efforts in Perth's southern suburb of Orelia where a fire that is suspected to have been deliberately lit on Monday has caused the closure of the Kwinana Freeway and Thomas road intersection. The fire has so far burnt out 750 hectares of the Beeliar Regional Park. Alan Gale spokesman from the Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia (FESA) said the fire had threatened a number of properties but firefighters had prevented any damage.

Additional fires have occurred around the Perth metro area including in South Guildford in bushland near Perth Airport threatening Palmer Barracks. A fire near the Marangaroo Golf Course in Perth's north flared up in the morning, though the source of the flare looks like it was deliberately lit.

WA Police Arson squad are investigating the more than 120 blazes that occurred across Perth since Monday and Mr Gale has asked anyone with information to call crime stoppers.


The fires in Orelia have spread into the rural suburb of Casuarina, and have now burnt out over 800 hectares. A FESA spokesman has said that three houses had been damaged by the fire, which is out of control. Residents to the east of the fire have been told to evacuate. Casuarina Prison staff are in communication with FESA and have evacuation plans prepared if the conditions change and need arises.

An evacuation point has been establish at the Kwinana Council buildings on Sulphur Road.