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Bushfire threatens homes in Western Australia's town

(Xinhua)

13:11, February 20, 2012

SYDNEY, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Residents in the town of Northcliffe in Western Australia's southwest have been advised to evacuate after a bushfire escaped containment lines, authorities said on Monday.

The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) said on Monday morning the fire was about 8 kilometers south of Northcliffe after breaking containment lines on Sunday.

Northcliffe, with a population of 400, has also been placed on emergency alert.

The DEC said firefighters were expecting the wind to change to a more southerly influence later on Monday and the risk of fire impact to properties in the area could be increased.

"At the moment, the police have indicated to us that they have visited between 35 and 40 homes asking people to evacuate, and that's within a four-kilometer radius of the north-west corner of the fire," DEC Incident Controller Peter Keppel told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Around 70 firefighters are battling the blaze, assisted by five aerial water bombers, according to Keppel.

About a dozen people evacuated from their homes spent the night in a shelter in Northcliffe.

The Northcliffe District High School has been closed for the day.

The fire, caused by lightning 10 days ago, has burnt through more than 26,000 hectares of bush land and forest.

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