Many holiday-makers and others trapped by a bushfire threatening lives and homes in Western Australia’s South-West are being given the chance to leave the area in an escorted convoy.
The blaze broke out on Monday night near Curtis Bay beach in Dunsborough, and an emergency warning remains in place for parts of Eagle Bay, Naturaliste and Dunsborough in the city of Busselton.
An assisted evacuation is taking place this afternoon in the Bunker Bay and Eagle Bay areas for people who want to leave the area.
One escorted convoy will leave the Bunker Bay Resort at 4pm, with a separate convoy departing from the Eagle Bay Community Hall at the same time.
Residents and tourists wishing to take advantage of the convoys need to be at one of the two locations by 3:30pm.
Authorities stressed that it was not a forced evacuation, but an opportunity for people who wanted to leave to do so.
People who choose to stay in the area are being urged to make sure they are self-sufficient for the duration of the emergency.
The fire — which has already razed about 200 hectares of bushland — is moving slowly in a west-north-westerly direction and is still out of control and unpredictable.
More than 150 firefighters are battling the flames and aerial support has been sent to assist crews.
Fire incident controller, Blake Moore, said about 70 people turned up to the evacuation site at the Geographe Leisure Centre.
He estimated there were another 390 people still in the Bunker Bay community and a similar number in the Eagle Bay area.
Guests at the Pullman Bunker Bay resort have told the ABC they are among hundreds who had been unable to leave the resort.
Perth teenagers Greta Lynch and Ruby Smith, both 16, are staying at the resort, with their families.
They said they were told many staff were unable to get to work this morning because of the fire.
“Everyone has just been helping out, everyone has been really nice,” they said.
This morning, people from the Eagle Bay and Bunker Bay areas were unable to be evacuated because of limited road access. Thousands of holiday-makers are staying at the picturesque tourism enclaves during the school holidays.
Road closures prevented the president of the Busselton Horse and Pony Club, Claire d’Espeissis, from leaving her property where a range of animals are housed.
“We are cut off, watching things carefully at the moment,” she said.
“Things are far better than they were last night. [We’re] happy to see the smoke clear off a bit from all the firefighting work last night, things are much better today.
“We have lots of animals on site so it’s quite concerning, dogs, cats, horses chooks and a llama.”
Trinity File, his partner, three sons and dog Oscar were at a friend’s holiday home when they were told to evacuate in the middle of the night and had to spend the rest of the evening in the car.
“We could see a haze and a glow in a westerly direction [moving] at a pretty rapid pace over the few hours that we were in the house,” he said.
A community meeting has been held this afternoon at the Geographe Leisure Centre in Busselton.
Mr Moore told the gathering about the opportunity for assisted evacuations.
He also said there had been no reports of serious property damage.
Mr Moore said fire conditions were expected to change this afternoon in Meelup and Eagle Bay.
A bushfire watch and act alert is in place for people north of Caves Road and west of Cape Naturaliste Road.
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