A catastrophic "tumbling wave" of wildfire devastated a small town in southwest Australia and burned over 58 000 hectares of bushland on the evening of January 7, 2016 (local time). Residents were evacuated and several firefighters sustained injuries while battling the raging flames. 3 people are feared dead.
The town of Yarloop, south of Perth suffered massive damage as flames almost 50 m (160 feet) high forced the citizens to leave their homes. Shocked residents described the flames as "one fireball after another".
The wildfire was reported to start around 6.30 pm (local time) and proved to be extremely difficult to sustain, according to Jesse Puccio, a volunteer firefighter: "It just ripped through, it was quite scary. It's like when you see in the war when the napalm bombers go through."
Video credit: ODN
"I still can't believe it, I saw a town disintegrate before my eyes," Chris Gable another volunteer firefighter said.
The disaster, aggravated by hot temperatures and strong winds causing the fire blazes to change directions suddenly, was caused by a lightning strike, according to local authorities, and the fire is currently threatening other communities south of Perth.
Video credit: OneIndia News
"I believe we've had what I would suggest [are] catastrophic losses within Yarloop," said Wayne Gregson, the state’s fire and emergency services commissioner.
"We are sending in teams to assess losses in Yarloop and to see if we can follow up on people who are unaccounted for. We hope to make a difference with aerial suppression."
About 95 homes were destroyed along with a nearby vineyard, bridge, local post office, fire station and hotel. Damage to local pubs, school, shops was extensive and only 30 homes were left standing in a town with a population of about 545 people.
A few people have stayed in town in hope of saving their homes and were forced to take refuge at a nearby football field.
New trending story from TIME: A Raging Wildfire in Western Australia Has Destroyed an Entire Town pic.twitter.com/Q6IfywJkgW— Vineet K. Jain (@vkj73) January 8, 2016
“We have been told to sit tight so we cannot see the exact damage yet, but it looks like most of the town has gone,” said Carmel Hill, who lost her home in the wildfire.
Locals were evacuated to a community center . However, 3 people are feared dead.
Featured image: Raging wildfire devastates Yarloop, Australia, January 8, 2015. Image credit: OneIndia News