The small Western Australian township of Yarloop appears to have been virtually wiped out and three residents are unaccounted for following an unpredictable bushfire, with the Insurance Council of Australia declaring it a catastrophe. The town, which has a population of 545, has lost about 95 homes, historic buildings, workshops, factories, the post office, a fire station and part of a local school. An emergency warning remains in place for the Shires of Waroona and Harvey, including Waroona, Hamel, Cookenup, Yarloop, Harvey, Preston Beach and Lake Clifton. The out-of-control and unpredictable blaze, which was sparked by lightning on Wednesday, has doubled in size overnight due to strong winds and has now burnt more than 53,000 hectares.
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