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    Wildfires destroy outskirts of Perth


    by ODN


    The Western Australian capital of Perth has been ravaged by wildfires that have razed up to 41 homes and severely damaged another 19, according to authorities.

    Western Australia's Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) Chief Operations Officer, Craig Hynes, has said the number is likely to increase.

    One firefighter has been injured and numerous people have been treated for smoke inhalation.

    Residents of Roleystone and the Kelmscott community southeast of Perth were evacuated from the route of the fire that suddenly flared around noon on Sunday.

    The fires have destroyed 4000 acres of forested land across the north and southeast of Perth since Saturday.

    Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced the formation of a "reconstruction inspectorate" that will be responsible for natural disaster reconstruction which is estimated to cost at least $5.7 billion.

    "Whilst Victoria battles floodwaters, over in the west people are battling bushfires and we've seen the loss of homes. People have been through the devastation of knowing that all of their possessions are gone," Gillard said.

    "I believe as we rebuild from these large scale and widespread natural disasters, that it's appropriate to have these mechanisms to ensure that every dollar is a dollar that is spent effectively," she added.

    February is the last month of Summer in Australia and also marks the height of both the monsoon season in the tropical north and the riskiest period for wildfires.