Raging fire engulfs small Australian town, threatens others

Bushfires threaten homes in Australia
Bushfires threaten homes in Australia

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Bushfires threaten homes in Australia 01:56

Story highlights

  • More than 200 firefighters are trying to bring the blaze under control
  • Fire believed to have started by lightning on January 6

(CNN)Australian firefighters are battling a huge blaze that's engulfed the small town of Yarloop, and is threatening others south of Perth in Western Australia.

Ninety-five buildings have been destroyed so far, and emergencies have been declared in the nearby towns of Harvey and Waroona, according to the Western Australia Fire and Emergency Services.
More than 200 firefighters and support stuff are currently fighting the blaze, using about 50 fire trucks and 24 heavy construction vehicles, such as bulldozers or excavators.
There have been no mandatory evacuations but people are being urged to leave or actively defend their properties. Four people have been injured so far and there have been no fatalities, the emergency services said.
The fire was first reported after daylight on Thursday, January 6. It's believed to have been ignited by a lightning strike hitting bushland.
The blaze spread quickly in dry conditions where temperatures are more than 40 degrees Celsius -- or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds of 50 or 60 kilometers then fanned the flames, according to CNN meteorologist Tom Sater.
Around 46,000 hectares or 465 square kilometers have been destroyed, including dozens of private residences, a mill, railway station and other public buildings.
Local media said as much as one-third of the town of Yarloop had been destroyed, including historic buildings dating back to the late 1800s.
The town was originally home to workers of a large timber mill, and remnants of the trade had been preserved for local tourism.
Residents were evacuated to nearby Pinjarra where they're waiting for emergency service officials to tell them when they can return to whatever's left of their homes.