Dozens of homes destroyed in Australian bush fires
More than 800 firefighters were yesterday tackling the blazes, which have been burning for several days in the hills around the city of Adelaide.
Officials said the fires were the worst in the area since the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983, which left 75 dead.
Cooler weather may help firefighters tame the flames, which have been fanned by high winds and temperatures, but South Australia premier Jay Weatherill said the situation remained critical.
“We’re by no means through this particular emergency,” he added.
“Homes are being threatened, there are people in the path of this fire front at the moment. It’s a very serious situation.”
He said 12 homes had been confirmed destroyed in the Adelaide Hills, with another 20 also feared lost and 22 people, mostly firefighters, are said to have suffered minor injuries.
More than 27,200 acres of land has been burned, according to reports.
The worst of the fires was in the Adelaide Hills, where the flames had destroyed five homes and put hundreds of others at risk, a fire service spokesman said.
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Residents of 19 communities had been asked to evacuate as a predicted shift in the winds prompted fears the flames could worsen.
The forecast was also predicting increased humidity, which could slow the fire’s progress, the spokesman added.
In neighbouring Victoria state, firefighters have controlled more than 300 fires since Friday, with only one still considered a danger. One home was destroyed in the blaze in the western Victoria town of Moyston, a spokesman said.
A shift in the weather was expected to bring light rain, wind and lightning to the area, which could exacerbate the blaze.
The rain would not be enough to quell the flames, and the lightning could spark fresh fires, the spokesman added.
A carer for orphaned animals, Jo Morris, was more concerned about the firefighters saving her kangaroos and wallabies than her home.
She said: “When they turned up here I could see the house was well alight and I just said to them, let it go, save my animals, and we did.”
But elsewhere, dozens of cats and dogs were killed when a cattery and kennel were destroyed as the fires continued to rage.
It is not known how many animals have perished in all.
The 1983 fires caused devastation across parts of Victoria and South Australia.
Australia faces damage from bush fires every year but environmentalists said global warning is making their occurrence more frequent.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology says the country experienced its hottest year on record in 2013.
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