Bushfire risk worries SA officials

Bushfire risk worries SA officials

6 February 2009

published by news.smh.com.au

Australia — Adelaide has sweltered through another day above 40 degrees as authorities cast a nervous eye towards Saturday, fearful conditions could spark a major bushfire.

The weather bureau is forecasting another day above 40 degrees but with strong winds as well.

The Country Fire Service (CFS) says that could be a deadly combination.

“The fire danger forecast for Saturday may be as extreme as we’ve seen in South Australia for a number of years,” said CFS chief office Euan Ferguson.

“People who live in high fire risk areas will need to activate their bushfire action plans and be prepared to swing into action by either staying and defending their property or leaving early.”

Metropolitan Fire Service chief Grant Lupton said suburban residents should also be on high alert with bushfires having the ability to spread very quickly from rural to urban environments.

“This extended heatwave has also increased the risk of structure fires,” Mr Lupton said.

“I urge all home and building owners to check their air conditioners, electrical fans and other appliances for signs of overheating and to ensure those appliances aren’t situated near fire hazards.”

South Australian police said Operation Nomad patrols, checking on known firebugs, would also be out in force on Saturday.

Chief superintendent Silvio Amoroso said police had boosted patrols and would prosecute anyone not complying with declared fire bans and regulations.

“Offenders should expect zero tolerance from us if they choose to deliberately or negligently start bushfires,” he said.

The extreme conditions in Adelaide on Friday followed two days of slightly milder weather with maximum temperatures dipping to the low 30s.

From Tuesday to Sunday last week the city endured six consecutive days above 40 degrees.

The weather bureau said the mercury reached 42.2 just after 3pm (CDST), not far from the forecast top of 43 degrees.

The heat was expected to put pressure on the state’s electricity supplies after a series of blackouts last week and also on transport services with tram and train lines at risk of buckling.

A cooler change is forecast to sweep through the state late on Saturday bringing milder conditions and dropping Adelaide’s maximum temperature for Sunday into the 20s for the first time in almost two weeks.

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