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lives at risk

Dozens of homes feared destroyed by raging fires in South Australia

Firefighters have been struggling to contain the blaze due to strong winds.

Reuters / YouTube

DOZENS OF HOMES were feared lost as an intense bushfire raged out of control in South Australia Saturday, with firefighters struggling to contain the worst blaze in decades as strong winds fanned the flames.

“Your life is at risk,” South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill told residents of the Mount Lofty Ranges east of Adelaide, urging them to leave as the “incredibly dangerous fire” raged in rugged scrub.

If you’ve decided to stay, you need to be aware that the fire will become incredibly scary and could lead you to change your mind at some point. It could be a catastrophic decision for you to leave late.

The blaze at Sampson Flat was spreading in all directions, sweeping rapidly from a 154 hectare area on Friday afternoon to one covering 4,741 hectares with a perimeter of 38 kilometres.

The fire is spreading unpredictably due to wind gusts, forcing firefighters to abandon hopes of stopping the blaze until the weather abates.

“There’s not a fire service anywhere in this world that could put this fire out at the moment,” Ian Tanner from the Country Fire Service told residents who fled their homes.

‘Extremely dangerous’

australia fires reuters vid Reuters Reuters

Residents of 19 towns in the Adelaide Hills, an area with a population of about 40,000 dotted with scenic villages and known for its farming produce and wineries, have been urged to leave amid the worst blaze the area has seen in decades.

So far five homes have been destroyed in the fire and reports have suggested that dozens more could be lost but authorities said this could not be confirmed until they were able to visit the area.

Eight firefighters have been hurt fighting the flames but are thought to have only minor injuries.

“At the moment, we have a fire which is extremely dangerous and it is burning under extremely adverse conditions,” South Australia’s Country Fire Service chief Greg Nettleton said.

Right at this moment, residents in the Adelaide Hills are being confronted by a fire which hasn’t been seen in the hills since the 1983 bushfires of Ash Wednesday.

The 1983 disaster killed more than 70 people in South Australia and Victoria and destroyed thousands of homes and buildings.

In Victoria, where temperatures also soared, one fire is still burning near Maroona in the state’s west after firefighters battled more than 320 blazes overnight.

Bushfires are common in Australia in the summer months. In February 2009 the devastating “Black Saturday” bushfires in Victoria left 173 people dead and razed more than 2,000 homes in the nation’s worst natural disaster of modern times.

© AFP 2014

Read: Irish man in critical condition after allegedly being punched by brother in Australia>

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