Bushfires still raging in South Australia have so far wiped out 26 houses and 41 sheds and outbuildings, making the blazes the state’s most destructive since 1983’s Ash Wednesday disaster.
Premier Jay Weatherill said on Monday that 11 fires were still burning in the Adelaide Hills, warning: “We’ve got a bit of a way to go until we can relax.”
“We know we are in a dangerous phase when people are getting fatigued, people have a false sense of security because it appears the worst is over,” he told reporters.
He also confirmed that while there had been no reported loss of human life, 29 people had been hospitalised, many of them firefighters who had been battling the blazes.
The main bushfire is believed to have begun early on Friday morning in the Sampson Flat area of the Mount Lofty Ranges, approximately 38 kilometres north-west of Adelaide. An incinerator is suspected as being the cause.
High winds and soaring temperatures caused the fire to expand and rip through over 13,000 hectares across a 238-kilometre perimeter by Sunday night, threatening up to 1100 properties.
10 water bombing aircraft and more than 700 firefighters from South Australia, Victoria and NSW have been battling the blaze. While threat to lives and property has been reduced for the time being, reinforcements were due to arrive on Monday night to continue fighting the fire, with temperatures forecast to reach in to the high thirties over the next 48 hours and winds of up to 45kmph predicted.
The threat from bushfires burn in the west of Victoria has subsided after cooler weather and rain arrived on Sunday. One home was lost.
Another bushfire burning near Perth has been brought under control but residents have been advised to remain alert, with temperatures reaching 44 degrees.
According to the WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services, “There is no threat to lives or homes, but there is a lot of smoke in the area.”
IMAGE: A shed destroyed during bushfires in Upper Hermitage in the Adelaide Hills on January 3, 2015. Houses were lost as an intense bushfire raged out of control in South Australia on on January 3, as authorities warned the state faced its worst wildfire danger since deadly 1983 blazes. (Brenton Edwards/AFP/Getty Images)