By GRAEME POWELL.
Four people have died and there are fears for two more in bushfires burning out of control near Esperance on Western Australia’s south coast.
Fire and Emergency Services Regional Superintendent Trevor Tasker said the blaze at Salmon Gums was the worst he had ever seen.
“The wind and weather conditions … there was no stopping it,” he said.
Two of those killed are believed to be a farmer and one of his workers from Salmon Gums.
Superintendent Tasker said they were thought to have crashed a car while trying to flee from their farm.
“We believe that may be the case, but we really can’t say for sure,” he said.
Mr Tasker said the speed of the fire caught firefighters off-guard.
“It definitely wasn’t planned, it was on the spot and flying by the seat of your pants,” he said.
“It was moving at a rate of knots that you’ve never seen before.”
The veteran fire official said it was one of the worst fires the region had faced.
“All the elements lined up,” he said.
“You could see the smoke coming over hill, and the panic was setting in.
“We made the decision to get the people back to Norseman, where they’ve camped overnight.”
There are four fires burning in the region, but the two most serious are at Grass Patch and Salmon Gums, 100 kilometres north of Esperance and at Stockyard Creek, 25 kilometres east of the town.
Crews are on the scene but have not been able to stop fires burning out of control.
Salmon Gums farmer and bushfire brigade volunteer Mic Fels and his family left their home yesterday as the fire approached.
“It’s just devastating. You know, the bizarre range of feelings that you have”, he told ABC News 24.
“We got our family out of the house when we realised that our property was in the line of the fire.
“The kids are crying. You’re chucking all the things in the car like you can think of, like favourite teddy bears and looks – our accounts and photo albums, but it’s a pretty scary experience for the family.
“When you know the loss of other people you know, young middle-aged people with young children and families and involved in the community and now they’re gone, it’s pretty upsetting.”