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Fire authorities prepare for day of extreme danger in Adelaide Hills

Wednesday December 27, 2017 - 08:50 EDT
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A fire near Tarlee blackened 50 hectares and needed 80 firefighters to bring it under control. - ABC

Fire authorities are at their highest level of alert in South Australia as parts of the state face extreme heat, with police keeping an eye out for fire bugs after two suspicious blazes in the Adelaide Hills.

Temperatures are set to soar into the mid-40s in the far north, and the Country Fire Service (CFS) has issued total fire bans in 13 of the state's 15 regions.

The fire risk has been rated as extreme in the Mount Lofty Ranges and Eastern Eyre Peninsula, and severe in other districts.

"These are the types of days where CFS and our partner agencies are at our highest level of alert and preparedness," CFS assistant chief officer Rob Sandford said.

"If a fire starts today in the conditions forecast, we will have difficulty controlling that fire until the weather conditions abate.

"The wind and the high temperatures and the low relative humidity today are influencing the forest fire danger in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

"That's why that's an extreme fire danger rating, and the Eastern Eyre Peninsula because of the wind speed in that area."

Police on alert for fire bugs

Firefighters have already been kept busy by several small fires in the last 36 hours, including two in the Adelaide Hills — one at Paracombe, the other at Forreston — which police believe were deliberately lit.

Patrols from Operation Nomad, which is dedicated to tackling arson, will today be "in the hills and definitely looking out for any suspicious activity", senior constable Kylee Simpson said.

"But we also call on the public and ask them if they do see anything suspicious to please call us on 131 444," she said.

Another fire believed to have been sparked by a header blackened 50 hectares near Tarlee north of Adelaide yesterday afternoon.

Water bombers helped 80 firefighters bring the blaze under control within two hours.

Adelaide is heading for a forecast top of 39 degrees Celsius, but temperatures are expected to be several degrees warmer in the far north, including 44C in Oodnadatta and Marree.

"We've got a change moving through later this evening. Ahead of that we'll see fresh north-easterly to north-westerly winds and very hot and dry conditions," Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Ben Owen said.

Police have also reminded holidaymakers who have flocked to the River Murray about new lifejacket laws now in effect.

Operation Riversafe began yesterday, and wearing a life jacket is now mandatory for children under the age of 12, or people of all ages who are aboard motorboats shorter than 4.8 metres.


© ABC 2017

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