National Park destroyed in SA bushfires

National Park destroyed in SA bushfires

14 December 2007

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Australia — At least 75,000 hectares of mostly native vegetation has been destroyed since several bushfires flared up on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island more than a week ago.

The Country Fire Service (CFS) said firefighters are now battling four blazes on the island, the largest in the Flinders Chase National Park where 51,000 hectares had been destroyed.

The fires have so far claimed one life, with the body of a man who had been assisting firefighters found in his burnt out truck near Vivonne Bay, on the island’s south coast last week.

Temperatures soaring into the high 30s and strong wind gusts have fuelled the national park fire which broke containment lines and jumped the Playford Highway late on Wednesday.

The crisis started last Thursday when lightning sparked 12 outbreaks on the island.

Authorities considered declaring a state of emergency but have shelved the decision until on Friday morning ahead of an expected cool change.

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast showers for Adelaide on Friday afternoon and possible rain overnight but the falls are expected to miss the island.

CFS chief officer Euan Ferguson said the south-westerly wind change might even fuel the fires if rain did not eventuate.

He said possibly hundreds of properties could be in the path of the Flinders Chase fire if containment lines did not hold.

The fire burned down to the coast on the island’s west side and, although it had not been confirmed, it was likely the Destrees fire on the island’s south-east had done the same.

The CFS said significant fire behaviour had been reported on the Destrees fire, which had burnt about 13,000 hectares.

Firefighters also would continue to patrol the Central Fire at near Vivonne Bay (5,600 hectares) and the Solly Fire near Western River (3,100 hectares).

More than 700 volunteers from five states are now involved in the island emergency with firefighters from Western Australia joining colleagues from SA, Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

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