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SA prepares for day of fire danger

Thursday January 3, 2013 - 20:01 EDT
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Scorched grass after burned about five hectares at St Ives in the Adelaide Hills. - ABC

Catastrophic fire danger warnings have been forecast for several parts of South Australia tomorrow as grassfires continue to burn around the state.

Fire weather warnings and Total Fire Bans will apply across the entire state with the mercury expected to climb to 44 degrees Celsius in Adelaide.

Temperatures are expected to reach 45C in Renmark, 46C in Port Augusta and Whyalla and 47C in Tarcoola.

The Bureau of Meteorology says Friday will be a day of catastrophic fire danger in the Mount Lofty Ranges, the Lower South East and on Kangaroo Island.

Country Fire Service crews on the island are currently back burning to try to contain a fire burning near MacGillivray.

The fire has burnt more than 80 hectares of crops, scrub and grass.

Two water bombing planes will arrive in South Australia from New South Wales tonight.

State CFS coordinator Mal Watts says tomorrow will be one of the highest risk days in several years.

"Tomorrow is a concerning day for us, it is a dangerous day," he said.

"It's a dangerous day in terms of fire weather and it's a dangerous day I think to the community and also to emergency service respondents who are called upon to attend these events."

Clare threat

Severe and Extreme Fire Danger ratings will apply in all remaining districts tomorrow.

The CFS says Clare in the Mid North, where 41C is forecast, could come under threat if a nearby fire breaks containment lines.

About 60 firefighters are still monitoring the fire near Sevenhill in the Clare Valley after it started on Tuesday afternoon.

The fire is in steep and heavily wooded terrain, making it difficult to put out.

The CFS held a public meeting in Sevenhill last night to inform locals of the possibility the fire could again become out of control.

CFS spokesman Rod Cunningham says a wind change forecast for tomorrow could push the flames towards Clare.

"We're expecting in Clare to get a real pounding with southerly winds late in the afternoon which would, if there were any breakouts of the fire, would force it towards Clare," he said.

Mal Watts says strong winds could cause embers to spread.

"Fire's unpredictable. We only need a bit of a wind gust or a local condition to occur and a spark could breach a control line and we could be up and running again, " he said.

"We need everyone to be vigilant about where they are and where they're going."

CFS Regional Commander John Hutchins says plans are in place if the fire does break control lines.

"We've got strike teams organised from now until Sunday. We'll have crews both day shift and night shift," he said.

"There's crews on standby around the state that are able to come on hand if we get an ember that pops out and starts a fire outside the current control line, we'll have crews on that fire right up until Sunday if required."

Home damaged

A fire at St Ives near Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills was contained after it damaged a house and spread to the median strip of the South Eastern Freeway.

It took ground crews and water bombing aircraft about an hour to bring the fire under control after it started about 10:30am.

The fire burnt about five hectares of grassland and damaged the roof of a house on Aclare Mine Road.

Firefighters also contained a grass fire at Compton near Mount Gambier in the south east that broke out about 12:30pm.

Temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius in northern and western parts of South Australia today.

The Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens was closed because of the fire danger.


© ABC 2013

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