Two Dead, Towns Destroyed in Australia Bushfire

Two Dead, Towns Destroyed in Australia BushfireTwo Dead, Towns Destroyed in Australia Bushfire

Two people have died and hundreds of homes have been razed in a huge bushfire in Australia. Firefighters continue to battle the out-of-control blaze, but eased weather conditions may offer a reprieve.

Australian authorities said on Sunday that the bodies of the deceased were found in burnt-out homes in Yarloop, a historic town 110 km south of the state capital, Perth. The deceased are believed to be two missing men aged 73 and 77, Western Australia Police officials told AFP.

The blaze, which has burnt around 71,000 hectares in Western Australia, is the most recent in a string of massive bushfires across the country this summer, with the latest deaths bringing the national bushfire death toll to eight.

The bushfire, which reportedly started by lightning strike, has been burning for five days. More than 140 properties have been destroyed, including 121 homes in Yarloop, the West Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services said.

The blaze has a perimeter of about 226 km and is still burning out-of-control.

Weather bureau forecaster Angus Moore said that cooler temperatures and easing winds had been forecast for later on Sunday, something firefighters were hoping to take advantage of.

A DFES spokeswoman told AFP, the cooler conditions would allow those battling the blaze “to gain more ground on the fire and to increase containment lines.”

Several towns still remain under threat, she added.

Western Australia’s Premier Colin Barnett declared the event a natural disaster, a measure that gives residents access to greater financial assistance, adding the “damage bill is going to be very significant.”

In 2009, Australia experienced its worst bushfires in living memory, which devastated parts of the southeastern state of Victoria, destroying thousands of homes and leaving 173 people dead.