Residents in Western Australia urged to flee as wildfire rages

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Residents in the state of Western Australia were urged to evacuate their homes on Saturday, as a bushfire burned out of control near the state’s capital Perth, amid soaring temperatures.

More than 40 bushfires were burning on Saturday in Australia’s largest state, with residents in the shire of Chittering, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of Perth, at risk from the uncontained blaze, according to fire authorities.

Australia is in the grips of a high-risk bushfire season after the onset of an El Nino weather event, associated with extreme events such as wildfires, cyclones and droughts.

“You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes,” the state’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services said on its website regarding the fire in Chittering, a rural area home to around 6,000 people.

The emergency alert came amid a heatwave warning in place on Saturday for many parts of the state that lifted the risk of bushfire outbreaks. In Perth, a maximum temperature of 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit) was forecast, almost 10 degrees above the city’s average January maximum, according to data from the nation’s weather forecaster.

Australia’s last two fire seasons have been quiet compared with the catastrophic 2019-2020 “Black Summer” of bushfires that destroyed an area the size of Turkey and killed 33 people.

(Reporting by Sam McKeith in Sydney; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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