Australia Is Once Again Battling Bushfires, Complicating COVID-19 Lockdown Protocols

An out-of-control wildfire burning just outside the Australian city of Perth on Wednesday forced hundreds of residents to flee, according to reports, echoing last year's devastating bushfire season and complicating lockdown efforts the city implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

So far, the fire has burned through more than 22,000 acres and destroyed more than 70 homes, lending a hazy orange tint to the skies over the city, the BBC reported. In addition, six firefighters were injured while battling the blaze.

Weather didn't help matters with Perth seeing several days of dry conditions and temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius (or 86 degrees Fahrenheit). State Premier Mark McGowan told The Associated Press a large aerial tanker was flying in from Australia's east coast to help.

Bushfire in Perth, Australia

"This is an extremely dangerous fire and a serious situation. Weather conditions are extremely volatile," McGowan said, adding, "Please do everything you can to keep you and your family safe and look after each other."

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the wildfire.

While Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is currently under a lockdown after one person tested positive for COVID-19 due to a locally transmitted infection, officials have urged people not to let that dissuade them from evacuating. As of Wednesday, evacuation warnings had been issued for several areas north and north-east of the city, including several suburbs.

The five day lockdown was expected to end on Friday.

"The important thing is the preservation of life," Western Australia Fire Commissioner Darren Klemm told the BBC. "So, if you're quarantining and you're required to evacuate, you should just evacuate."

Wednesday's wildfire evoked memories of late 2019 and early 2020 when out-of-control bushfires gripped Australia for months, cutting through southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales, burning up to 46 million acres, killing 33 people, killing or displacing nearly three billion animals, and circulating smoke around the world.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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