By Chris MouldsABC NewsA blaze burning across the state’s north is the worst bushfire on record.
At least 18 people have died and more than a thousand have been displaced as the fire raged for the past two days.
More than 20,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed, while hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest have burned across western WA.
At the height of the blaze on Wednesday, WA’s Environment Protection Agency declared it a bushfire emergency.
Emergency services were forced to return to the bushfire area overnight to assess the damage and provide assistance to the victims and families of the tragedy.
But there are fears that the number of deaths may have increased as the blaze has moved closer to the capital.
“It’s quite hard to assess how many people have actually been affected, but we’re quite confident that at least 18 lives have been lost,” Environment Protection Minister Steve Piddock said.
“At least six people have lost their lives so far.”
We have had a number of calls from people that are still displaced or people who have been evacuated, and we’re doing everything we can to help them as best we can.””
We’re continuing to get information from local people who are still trying to get back into their homes and their businesses.”ABC News understands that the fire is being dealt with by the state emergency response unit.”
Firefighters are using the latest information to assess where the fire will burn next and how it will spread, but unfortunately we are still at a loss as to how many lives have actually lost,” Mr Piddocks said.
He said that while there were no immediate reports of significant losses in the area, a number people had been injured and a number were in hospital.”
Our primary focus right now is on providing support to the families and the affected individuals and families as they get back to their homes,” Mr Rennie said.
Emergency crews and emergency services in western WA have been deployed to the region to assist with the firefighting effort.
The fire was originally reported to be burning in the north of the state, near the town of Kailahun.
The state’s Department of Environment said the fire was about 30 kilometres east of the town and had moved towards the city of Maungol.
Emergency officials said the blaze was still burning at the time of the ABC’s visit.”
The fire is now burning close to the town in the town,” the department said in a statement.”
All residents and visitors should be aware that the weather is changing rapidly.
“Due to the weather conditions, roads are limited, and firefighting operations will continue to be affected.”
Firefighting teams are in the process of evacuating residents from a number areas and are working closely with the State Emergency Service and other agencies.
“Please stay at home,” Mr Mould said.
The WA Emergency Services Minister Steve Rennies said the number and extent of the damage was unknown, but he urged people to avoid the area.
“As we’re getting closer to a more serious fire, we’re looking at a very big fire, the size of it is quite significant,” he said.ABC News’ Alex Niehaus contributed to this report.
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