WA is in for a long, hot and dry summer — and the bushfire alarm bells are ringing out loudly. In fact, experts warn that it could get so hot that it will be more uncomfortable than usual to go outside. National Council for Fire and Emergency Services said parts of WA were at elevated fire danger levels, with the State and much of Australia already experiencing “record-breaking dry conditions and warmer than average temperatures during early spring”. Perth is very much in the fire danger zone, as are the forests and shrublands of the South West and Great Southern. The city has had several days above 30C since the start of spring and in mid-November was hit with a week-long heatwave that, along with high winds, resulted in 18 homes being burnt down in the horror Wanneroo bushfire that tore through 1870ha. As well as Wanneroo, the blaze tore through the northern suburbs of Mariginiup, Jandabup, Banksia Grove, Melaleuca, Sinagra and Tapping. The early heat has also brought on several fires across the State — since October 1 there have been more than 1300 fires in WA, almost twice the number as the same time in 2022 — and the worst may be yet to come. The current El Nino weather event, which Australia declared as officially happening in September and which usually brings below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures, is expected to generate even hotter and drier conditions — with some experts tipping this summer’s bushfire season to be the worst in about four years. Department of Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Darren Klemm predicted WA was in for a brutal fire season, with soil dryness indicators six to eight weeks ahead of where they would normally be. It was a sentiment supported by DFES incident controller Clint Kuchel, who said WA residents needed to stay vigilant because it was “going to be a long, hot summer”. Public health physician Kate Charlesworth said it pointed to West Aussies likely having to spend more time indoors. “It’s a very real possibility that it won’t be safe to be outside for large parts of the day,” Dr Charlesworth said. “The combination of extreme heat or bushfire smoke, it’s really going to impact our whole way of life and the summers that we’ve always known.” Bureau of Meteorology spokeswoman Jessica Lingard said recently that Perth locals had been given little time to acclimatise to the sudden heat. “It’s been significantly different to what we’ve experienced recently so there’s been no slow build-up for our bodies to get used to,” she said. “It’s really about what your body is used to.” It is not only WA at the mercy of searing heat and increased bushfire risk. Much of Australia is experiencing drier than normal conditions, with NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory primed for extended fire seasons. Southern parts of South Australia, Tasmania’s south-east and sections of Victoria have been put on alert. “I do expect to see fires encroaching in the Melbourne metropolitan region, particularly on the outskirts,” Victorian Country Fire Authority chief officer Jason Heffernan said. Federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said the outlook for summer was a clear reminder that all Australians need to be prepared. “Compared with the spring outlook, more capital cities are facing increased risk and of course, a lot of Aussies moved to new areas post-COVID, which means larger populations that may be less familiar with bushfire and heatwave preparation,” Senator Watt said. “I urge people to be aware of the local risk, update their bushfire plans and pack emergency and evacuation kits.” Mr Klemm said it was vital people in prone bushfire areas had a fire plan. “It is really critical that everybody in your family, together, understands exactly what it is that that you’re going to do should a bushfire impact your area,” he said. “Everyone has a role to play.” West Australians are urged to download the My Bushfire Plan app, which can help users make critical decisions such as when to leave, what to take and where to go before a fire gets too close. The app is available from the App Store, Google Play or click here.