KERSBROOK, Australia (AFP) – Firefighters raced Monday to contain a major blaze before the forecast return of strong winds and a heatwave, following the loss of 26 homes in the worst bushfire conditions in South Australia for three decades.
The state fire service said properties were still at risk after nearly 13,000 hectares of scrub and farmland were razed in the Mount Lofty Ranges, east of Adelaide, over the weekend.
South Australia state Premier Jay Weatherill said that with cooler weather and calmer winds it was now a race against time before dangerous conditions expected Wednesday in the Adelaide Hills.
“There is still clear danger,” he told reporters as water bombing aircraft dropped hundred of thousands of litres of fire retardant on the blaze that has a 238-kilometre perimeter.
“This is by no means over,” Weatherill added.
“We’re really racing against time to try to make sure that we get as much of this contained before the hotter weather and the stronger winds expected later in the week.”
He confirmed the loss of 26 homes and 41 outbuildings.
The latest figures were reported after checks on just 20 of 59 affected areas.
At least 29 people, mostly firefighters, have suffered minor injuries from the fire, police said.
In Kersbrook, one of the worst-hit villages in the Adelaide Hills, resident Dave Miller surveyed the scene of destruction where his home once stood.
The 60-year-old told the Australian Associated Press he had very little left. “No house, not very much of anything, mate.”
“I’ve got a diesel tank still standing with 4,000 litres of diesel in but I’ve got nothing else,” he said.
But like most residents Miller vowed to rebuild and has no intention of leaving, despite the annual bushfire menace.
“I’ll stay up here. I’ll get a caravan or something to live in and just keep going.”