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Homes destroyed in worst bushfires in South Australia for three decades

More than a dozen homes have already been destroyed in the fire and there are concerns that lives could be at risk.

Image: AFP via YouTube

FIREFIGHTERS ARE CONTINUING to battle the worst bushfire in South Australia for three decades, with officials warning of a threat to lives even as weather conditions improve.

It is feared that more than 30 homes have been destroyed. The state’s Country Fire Service said the intense fire, which broke out Friday in the Mount Lofty Ranges east of Adelaide, was continuing to burn in all directions at Sampson Flat, threatening lives.

Hundreds of firefighters from the neighbouring states of Victoria and New South Wales joined their South Australian counterparts, taking the total crew battling the blaze to more than 800.

Some 22 people, mostly firefighters, have suffered minor injuries from the fire, Weatherill added.

A cool change today is expected to help them work to contain the fire ahead of a forecast rise in temperatures again on Wednesday.

“I can confirm that 12 homes have been destroyed and it’s feared that a further 20 homes have also been lost,” South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill told reporters.

“However, the conditions for firefighting have improved. The weather is cooler and the weather conditions will permit aerial firefighting.

There was devastating news for petowners as the Tea Tree Gully Boarding Kennels and Cattery confirmed a large number of dogs and cats had been lost in the fire. The owners said some 30 dogs and in the cattery, none of the cats survived.

Weatherhill said it will be critical today to try to contain the blaze as much as possible ahead of Wednesday’s worsening weaher.

He said following a visit to the site of the bushfire today that he had seen “many burnt-out houses” and also “fires licking at the edges of a number of houses”.

“This fire is a long way from over… there is a lot of hard work to be done. The conditions out there are difficult and in some respects dangerous,” he added.

Large area razed 

More than 11,000 hectares (27,200 acres) have been burnt in the Adelaide Hills, an area in the Mount Lofty Ranges with a population of about 40,000 and that is dotted with scenic villages and known for its farming produce and wineries.

Temperatures are forecast to soar to 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday, but the winds are not expected to be as strong as they have been over the past two days, Country Fire Service chief executive Greg Nettleton said.

Source: AP

State officials said yesterday it was the worst fire conditions they had seen 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, cooler temperatures Sunday saw bushfire warnings downgraded across the state. But thousands of sheep and other stock were believed to have been lost in blazes there, officials said.

Bushfires are common in Australia’s summer months between December and February.

“Black Saturday”, the worst firestorm in recent years, devastated southern Victoria in 2009 as it razed thousands of homes and killed 173 people.

- © AFP 2015 with additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

Read: Dozens of homes feared destroyed by raging fires in South Australia>

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