Eric Roozendaal has said the government is concerned that for many years councils have relied on donations for the upkeep of their bushfire-prone areas. To that end, a firefighting helicopter that cannot fly below 8,000ft will fly to the coasts to give crews a way to effectively put out fires at a height they will not burn out.
A 700-kilometre long fire break will be built along coastal roads in an effort to isolate those fires from dry conditions.
On Saturday Roozendaal said “the blazes are a real concern for all WA”, and that early rains will give some good news for emergency services that were once again forced to engage in a race against time.
Other key cities were threatened by the blazes. In Queensland firefighters used hoses and pumps to protect a train on a railway line in the state’s north-west. In South Australia the fire around Busselton forced the evacuation of a hospital.
In South Australia the safety of BHP staff was guaranteed, after winds caused a dust storm and created challenging conditions, with the company’s head of emergency services saying he was confident the fire would not have a negative impact on the operations at its Olympic Dam mine.
The fire near Augusta, in WA, meanwhile, forced evacuations of many homes, with hundreds forced to leave at the weekend.
There has been a huge loss of properties in the Blue Mountains, home to Australia’s most famous golf course, as bushfires swept through the area. The full extent of the damage has yet to be known, but the NSW local government minister Mark Speakman said the fires had “destroyed hundreds of properties”.
The ABC reported that four of the worst hit areas included Wentworth Park, Michelago, Mount Ommaney and St Helens, all in the Blue Mountains, while live footage showed numerous homes devastated.
Three people were killed in the fires, one of whom was the 78-year-old owner of Michel’s Mt Ommaney winery, Michael Lloyd-Jukes. A teenager, James Craig Young, also died, while the body of another person, Yasi Adam Stanbridge, was found in nearby Upper Mount Ommaney.
Information about bushfire safety has been communicated to 80% of homes in the Blue Mountains after an earlier, earlier communication to all homes in the area failed.
The bushfire which caused the destruction has been described as Australia’s most serious since Black Saturday in 2009, and a number of people are still missing.
The high bushfire threat has shut down parts of Sydney’s western Sydney area, while BHP and Rio Tinto have shut operations at their Olympic Dam and Yeoval mines.
Many areas of Western Australia have been threatened by a number of fires, including a blaze at Carnarvon which has been burning for 48 hours.
On Sunday firefighters used hoses and pumps to try to protect a train at Carnarvon, which was threatened by the fire.
In regional South Australia, two blazes near Busselton forced the evacuation of the premises at Watermark Nursing Home, which was under threat of a large fire but firefighters were able to protect the facility.
In the Northern Territory a bushfire caused by a lightning strike has burnt at least 6 hectares of bushland in Kakadu National Park.
Forecasters have warned there is a lack of rain in the forecast over the next few days, with temperatures above 30C predicted in many regions.
• This article was amended on 16 December to add the correct name of Carnarvon resident Michael Lloyd-Jukes, who died of fire exposure on Friday.