Weather News

Rain falls across Adelaide and Cherry Gardens fireground as damping down continues

By Eugene Boisvert and Isabel Dayman, Wednesday January 27, 2021 - 01:18 EDT
ABC image
A CFS crew looking after hot spots from the Cherry Gardens bushfire. - ABC

Country Fire Service (CFS) crews in the Adelaide Hills are being helped by favourable weather conditions including rain and cooler temperatures, as they assess the damage .

Two homes, 19 outbuildings and two vehicles that burnt more than 2,700 hectares of land south-east of Adelaide amid extreme heat, before it was .

Rain began falling over the area on Monday afternoon, with Adelaide going on to record its wettest January day in 44 years.

Almost 30 millimetres of rain were recorded at the West Terrace CBD weather station in the 24 hours until 9:00am on Tuesday, causing minor flooding in the western and inner-southern suburbs.

"Yesterday ? with that 29.8mm ? was our wettest January day since 1977, so it's been quite a long time since we've had a January day at least that's been this wet," said Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecaster Bonnie Haselgrove.

"We're now well above average [for the month]. West Terrace has now had over 30mm ? our average is only around 20mm."

There were even higher falls in northern parts of the state as thunderstorms moved across, with more than 50mm near Leigh Creek.

Closer to the fireground, more than 36mm fell in Aldgate ? the wettest 24 hours there since June 2019.

CFS incident controller Scott Turner urged people to stay away from the fire ground for "the next couple of weeks".

He said trees posed a particular risk, as many were burning internally at more than 500 degrees centigrade, and could fall without warning.

He said CFS volunteers were using thermal imaging cameras to identify them.

"This is not a safe [area] to be," he said.

"We'll see more hot spots emerge, with more hot spots now evident in multiple [locations] across the fire ground.

"We've had a couple of sightseers with minor injuries [due] to slipping [and] we've had a couple of cars slide off the side of the road, so we're encouraging people to stay out of this area."

Mr Turner said the north-eastern corner of the fire ground, near Bradbury and Mylor, was causing concern for the CFS.

"We have three kilometres of very difficult-to-access fire edge, [which] fire crews are currently walking into, and carrying heavy fire equipment to try and extinguish it."

He said fire crews were also working on foot at the south-west corner of the fireground, near Clarendon.

Mr Turner said that in total, about 140 firefighters were keeping watch for flare-ups and embers, along with staff from SA Water and National Parks.

Mr Turner warned that the reopening roads should not be viewed as an invitation for people who are not local to travel to the area.

"We remind the broader Adelaide and Adelaide Hills community this is not a safe area to come sightseeing," he said.

"Please pay respect to those that are dealing with this fire and we will have a considerable volume of traffic from fire service and support agency personnel as we continue to assess the scene over coming days."

More residents tell of lucky escapes

The fire reached the boundary of George Wood's Scott Creek property on Sunday night.

He said the flames made the hills look "like New York at night" ? but they never got closer than 200 metres away from his house.

"We couldn't go into the bush, so we basically had to sit and wait for it to come to the fence line and hope there wasn't a wind change or other factors," he said.

"We were very concerned about spotting as well but ? the wind was low, which was our saving factor."

Mylor resident Susan said she was experiencing "mixed emotions".

She lost her home in a bushfire in the 1980s but on Monday discovered her house was still intact.

"I was driving home as the rain hit, which was just incredible to actually get out of the car and it was bucketing down with rain," she said.

"It was like somebody said, 'OK, you've had enough, here's some to help'."

Investigations into what sparked the bushfire are continuing.

Senior Constable Mick Abbott said police were seeking any information about suspicious behaviour in the area on Sunday.

"Detectives are after anyone that may have been in that area between 3:00pm and 4:30pm in the Cherry Gardens, Dorset Vale, or Clarendon areas that may have seen anything suspicious or may have been just driving in the area and may have dashcam [footage]," he said.


© ABC 2021

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