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Eaton bushfire: Blaze threatens lives and homes with residents evacuating

Oliver Lane & Hannah CrossThe West Australian
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More than 32 firefighting crews including air support have been sent to Eaton as an inferno forced residents to evacuate — including a family of four who have only been in their home for three months.
Camera IconMore than 32 firefighting crews including air support have been sent to Eaton as an inferno forced residents to evacuate — including a family of four who have only been in their home for three months. Credit: Supplied

More than 32 firefighting crews including air support have been sent to Eaton as an inferno forced residents to evacuate — including a family of four who have only been in their home for three months.

Eaton residents were told to evacuate Thursday afternoon after the fire burning near Forrest Hwy was upgraded.

People north of Forrest Hwy in the area bounded by Eaton Drive, Lofthouse Avenue and Millard Street should evacuate now if the way is clear.

The out-of-control blaze is moving fast in a westerly direction and remains unpredictable, as the Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned “burning embers are likely to be blown around your home”.

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Forrest Hwy is closed in both directions between Raymond Rd, Acceleration Ln and Thomson Rd and Alyxia Dr, and those evacuating should head north.

“You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive,” the latest warning said.

“The alert level for this fire has been upgraded as lives and homes are now under threat.”

A local family four, who only moved into their home three months ago, were among those who fled to the evacuation centre set up by the Department of Communities at Eaton Recreation Centre.

The Bowers family were told by emergency services to evacuate their Firethorn Place home in an experience father and former New Zealand volunteer firefighter Chris Bowers described as “very scary”.

“We’ve never experienced anything like that before,” Mr Bowers said.

“We had a normal day so far, I’d just finished work yesterday, went into town to buy a few things. We went home and saw the fire getting worse and worse.

“Then the fireys came up and after about half an hour said we had to evacuate.”

Mr Bowers said even his prior experience didn’t prepare him for the reality of having his home on the line.

“I’ve done bushfires and things before but never anything on this scale, this is out of this world,” he said.

“The fire could have engulfed three properties bordering the Forrest Highway but it got saved because the fireys did such a great job and our house is saved (so far) as well.”

Firefighters battling the flames on the scene face tough conditions with a temperature of 32.8C and wind gusts of 43km/h as of about 4pm.

Residents in parts of Pelican Point, Picton, Picton East and Eaton are being told to stay vigilant, with a watch and act in place for people north of Lofthouse Avenue to Pratt Road and west of Millard Street to Old Coast Road and people south of Forrest Highway to Temple Road, east of Willinge Drive.

Eaton residents were told to evacuate Thursday afternoon after the fire burning near Forrest Hwy was upgraded. 
Camera IconEaton residents were told to evacuate Thursday afternoon after the fire burning near Forrest Hwy was upgraded.  Credit: supplied/supplied

The blaze was first reported late Wednesday night just after 10pm near the intersection of Eaton Dr and Forrest Hwy.

Bushfire advice is also in place for people in the area north of Lofthouse Avenue and Diadem Street to Pratt Road and west of Eaton Drive and Leake Street, as well as people west of Old Coast Road, bounded by Estuary Drive and Willinge Drive in parts of Pelican Point, Vittoria and Eaton.

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