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Out-of-control bushfire destroys homes in Perth amid Covid-19 lockdown

PERTH: At least 71 homes have been destroyed in a bush fire raging out of control near Perth, the authorities said yesterday as they told residents to ignore a coronavirus lockdown and leave threatened areas.

The blaze has torn through swathes of land in the Perth Hills and was moving towards more densely populated areas.

Six firefighters received minor injuries but no deaths or serious injuries have been reported.

"To the people who have lost their homes, it's just devastating for them. Our thoughts go out to them," Western Australian fire commissioner Darren Klemm said.

Several emergency warnings were issued, with conditions set to worsen later yesterday.

The blaze hit a population that had just been forced into a snap lockdown after a coronavirus case was detected. About two million people in and around Perth fell under the stay-at-home orders imposed on Sunday.

"This is a situation the likes of which we have never seen before," said Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan. "A full lockdown and raging bush fires. It is frightening and it will test us all."

No new virus cases have been detected since the lockdown began.

As the fire front edged nearer to more populated areas, Mr Klemm called on locals to escape the potentially deadly blaze despite the coronavirus restrictions.

"What we don't want is indecision from people about whether they should evacuate or not when we require them to evacuate," he said. "So that evacuation overrides any quarantining requirements people may have."

Hundreds have fled the area since the bush fire started on Monday, with many sleeping in evacuation centres overnight. - AFP

WORLD