Nine firefighters burnt in Adelaide bushfire

Nine firefighters burnt in Adelaide bushfire

13 March 2008

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Australia — Nine firefighters have been burnt and a luxury house has been destroyed as a bushfire rages out of control south of Adelaide.

Waterbombers and 160 fire fighters are battling the blaze near the historic town of Willunga, 47km from Adelaide, as the tinder-dry region swelters through its longest-ever heatwave.

The fire started about 3.30pm (CDT) on the edge of the winegrowing region of McLaren Vale, a Country Fire Service (CFS) spokeswoman said.

The blaze had burnt about 100ha of land by 5pm.

“Unfortunately we have lost one house,” she said.

Another 14 houses are believed under threat.

Speaking at a press conference late this afternoon, CFS Incident controller Daniel Austin said the extreme weather conditions were hampering the containment efforts.

“We’ll be obviously with the fire until it is declared safe, and that might take a couple of days or even longer particularly given the weather condition that we are expecting over the next four or five days,” he said.

SA blaze hurts five, destroys home
The bushfire rages near Willunga (Picture: Michael Marschall)

Mr Austin confirmed nine CFS volunteers were injured battling the blaze. He said they were surrounded by flames and issued an urgent “mayday”.

“The firefighters were direct attacking the fire, so physically fighting and at that time the fire basically grew around them,” Mr Austin said.

The nine, including a middle aged woman, sustained facial burns and smoke inhalation however their injuries aren’t considered life threatening.

He said it was too early how the fire had started but couldn’t rule arson.

Residents are being warned to activate bushfire plans and note there are roadblocks in place.

People who commute to the city should consider remaining there tonight, the CFS spokeswoman said.

The CFS says the fire is burning in a southwesterly direction along Bishop Road and is heading towards Meadows and Proctor Roads, driven by strong winds.

Adelaide, still in the grip of drought, surpassed today the previous capital city heatwave record of 10 days above 35 degrees recorded in Perth in February 1988.

Fire bans are in force across the state tomorrow.

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