Early fires highlight risk

Early fires highlight risk

22 December 2008

published by www.news.com.au

Australia — A fire on Eyre Peninsula came dangerously close to a homestead yesterday, amid fresh warnings to be bushfire ready.

The fire at Mine Hill, near Tumby Bay, about 11am was extinguished by Country Fire Service volunteers and farmers with the help of fire-bombing aircraft.

It took 25 firefighters and two water-bombers 45 minutes to control the 100ha crop fire, which burned to within 200m of the homestead.

About 12.30pm, a fire near Warooka, on Yorke Peninsula, burnt about 46ha of crops and stubble and took one hour to control.

Both fires were caused by combine harvesters.

CFS chief executive Euan Ferguson said hot weather and dry conditions would make for a dangerous bushfire season.

The temperature in Adelaide peaked at 34.5C at 3.11pm yesterday, making it the hottest day so far this month.

Mr Ferguson said South Australia would likely see a “major bushfire” this year.

“I think the probability is that somewhere in South Australia this fire season we’ll see a major bushfire,” he said.

“Everyone needs to do their bushfire prevention work, get their firefighting equipment ready and make sure they and their neighbours are ready.”

Mr Ferguson was speaking at the launch of an Erickson Air-Crane water-bombing aircraft, to be based in SA for the first time.

Previously a similar aircraft, nicknamed Elvis, was deployed from interstate when needed.

Premier Mike Rann said the aircraft will give firefighters the aerial support they need. It will be based at Brukunga in the Adelaide Hills.

“This is substantially, massively improving the firefighting capacity of the CFS,” Mr Rann said.

The new aircraft, capable of carrying 7500 litres of water, is named Flynn after Royal Flying Doctor Service founder John Flynn. It is one of only five in Australia and will cost about $12,000 an hour to run.

SA now has 15 fire-fighting aircraft. The CFS has issued a total fire ban for the Riverland and Murraylands today.

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