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Bushfires rage in Western Australia

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Brushfires ravage Western Australia
  • Investigators believe the fire was accidentally started
  • At least 59 homes are destroyed by the flames
  • A state natural disaster is declared by Western Australia's premier
  • Australia

(CNN) -- Firefighters battled bushfires in and around Perth in Western Australia on Monday, emergency officials said.

The raging flames have destroyed at least 59 homes, Sally Bowery with CNN affiliate Seven Network reported, citing fire authorities.

Western Australia's premier, Colin Barnett, said that the severity of the fire damage was bad enough that he has declared a natural disaster in the Perth's hills region.

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The declaration means residents can qualify for emergency accommodation, food, essential clothing and other personal items, temporary living expenses, housing repairs and replacement of household furniture.

Bushfires rage in Western Australia

Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) officials declared a total fire ban for "Perth, Perth hills and surrounding areas, Mandurah, inland parts of the Central Wheatbelt and the Central West."

The flames are being fanned by 75 kph (47 mph) winds.

An initial investigation indicates the fire was accidentally started from sparks caused by a person using an angle grinder.