Authorities have reissued an emergency warning for fires burning in Western Australia, after the deadly blaze which claimed four lives broke containment lines on Thursday.
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The Department of Fire and Emergency Services have said there was a threat to lives and homes, and people needed to act immediately to survive, as authorities work to control the fast-moving fire as it moves in a south-easterly direction.
On Wednesday four people died in the fires, including three backpackers and a local farmer. It has also been estimated more than 150 livestock have also perished in the flames
Bushfire EMERGENCY WARNING for Grass Patch, Salmon Gums, and surrounding areas in the Shire of Esperance https://t.co/HNKSnvtSVs— DFES (@dfes_wa) November 19, 2015
Farmer Kym Curnow died after getting trapped in the blaze as he drove door-to-door trying to warn his neighbours to evacuate their homes, while a 19-year-old German woman, a 29 year old Norwegian woman and a 31-year old British man who were working at a nearby farm were also killed.
Farm owner Linda Campbell told the ABC the trio left the farm after the man wanted to save his horse.
However the group, who were reportedly hauling a horse float, turned the wrong way onto a road and ran into a wall of flames.
Ms Campbell said the two women had only been working on the at Karranga farm for six weeks, while the mechanic had been with them since last November.
Campbell told The West Australian, Curnow contacted her by radio to warn the fire was 10 kilometres away and to ask if she was well-prepared.
“He also called in with his son and spoke to my son prior to the front hitting,” Campbell said.
“I’ve been here 30 years and have never seen anything like this.”
Police have yet to formally identify the victims, though Ms Campbell said she had spoken with the familes of the British man and the 19-year-old woman.
“He was fighting the fires with my husband when Dave made the call that our house was in direct danger and he had to get back,” she said.
“He then made the decision that he would take the horse and go. If they had turned right at the gate and not left they wouldn’t have died.”
The Campbells are among several farmers who have lost almost their entire wheat crop.
Hundreds of people were evacuated yesterday as the people of Esperance braced themselves for more catastrophic days ahead.
Phone towers were destroyed, making communication almost impossible and leading locals to turn to social media to find information about loved ones.
The fires were sparked by lightning on Sunday, ripping through more than 150,000 hectares and several farms around Salmon Gums, Scaddan, Grass Patch, Merivale and Norseman.
By Monday, the area had a fire danger index rating of 250 -- a rating higher than the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria and more than double what’s used to indicate catastrophic conditions.
The fires were fanned by strong winds, destroying at least three homes and 15,000 livestock, as well as destroying crops that were ready for harvesting after a successful season.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also offered his condolences and said the Federal Government stood ready to provide assistance.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who’ve lost their loved ones,” he said on Wednesday
“This is a very tragic event.”
Anyone unable to contact family can visit the Australian Red Cross website and search the Register.Find.Unite register.