South Australia dodges bushfire disaster

South Australia dodges bushfire disaster

20 November 2009

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Australia– South Australia dodged a bushfire disaster this week as soaring temperatures and 25,000 lightning strikes sparked more than 100 fires, authorities say.

Swift action by volunteers on Thursday to tackle fires on Yorke Peninsula, Eyre Peninsula, in the Flinders Ranges, on the west coast and in the Clare Valley had saved the state from disaster, the Country Fire Service (CFS) said.

“I think we were very lucky we were able to arrest and bring those fires under control,” CFS state coordinator Mark Thomason told reporters on Friday.

“If those fires had been in native scrub, in inaccessible areas, then our actions today would be slightly different.”

The CFS was contending with only one major blaze on Friday with a fire still going strongly at Wirrabara in the Flinders Ranges.

Mr Thomason said while it had destroyed about 20 hectares it was burning in steep and largely inaccessible terrain and did not pose an immediate threat to property.

About 20 firefighters were expected to trek into the area on foot on Saturday to establish a break which would hopefully bring it under control.

Also on Friday, water-bombers and ground crews contained a fire burning at Spring Gully in the Clare Valley.

Some fears were held for about 20 homes in the area although the blaze was eventually halted about eight kilometres short of the buildings.

The biggest bushfire on Thursday, near Curramulka on the Yorke Peninsula, burnt 1,250ha of land.

The fire was started by a mechanical fault in harvest machinery, a CFS spokeswoman said.

At the height of the blaze, five firefighters were injured when two CFS tankers collided in heavy smoke.

One firefighter was hospitalised with head and leg injuries, another suffered shock and the other three sustained minor injuries.

On Thursday, Adelaide recorded its hottest ever November day with a maximum of 43 degrees Celsius, surpassing the previous record of 42.7 degrees in November 1962.

Other areas of the state also baked, with Port Augusta’s 44.8 degrees among the highest.

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