Tag: CFS

Plastic surgeon and pilot killed in Kangaroo Island bushfire catastrophe

Kingscote 5223

An experienced pilot and his son have been killed in catastrophic bushfires that have ravaged more than a third of Kangaroo Island and destroyed homes and businesses.

Key points:

  • Dick Lang and his son Clayton died in the blaze, the men’s family has confirmed
  • Significant property losses are expected on the island
  • A cool change came through South Australia last night

The family of tour operator and aviator Dick Lang has confirmed he perished in the blaze, along with his youngest son Clayton — a leading plastic surgeon who specialised in hand surgery.

Dick Lang, 78, ran his own flight adventure business out of Adelaide Airport and was described as one of the nation’s “best bush pilots”.

“We are devastated to have lost two beloved members of our family — Dick Lang and his youngest son Clayton Lang — in such terrible circumstances,” his family said in a statement.


Plastic surgeon Mr Clayton Lang also perished in the fire that killed his father. (Dextra Surgical)

“Dick and Clayton were in the process of returning to the family property on Kangaroo Island after fighting a nearby fire for two days.”

Dick Lang lived and worked in the outback for most of his life, securing him the nickname ‘Desert’.

His 43-year-old son was supervisor of surgical training at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, his family said.

Dick Lang — whose ancestors were among the first European settlers in South Australia and arrived on the Buffalo — had flown rescue operations in desert regions and over Papua New Guinea.

“He loved the bush, he loved adventure and he loved Kangaroo Island,” his family said.

“Dick and Clayton were prominent members of the South Australian community who rose to the top in their chosen professions.”

Police said the men died on the Playford Highway in the centre of the island, and that one of the victims was found inside a car.

More than 170,000 hectares — which is more than a third of the island — have been burned by two major bushfires.

The Country Fire Service (CFS) said most of the damage had been done by a fire which started near Ravine in the island’s north-west, which had burned about 155,000 hectares and was described as “virtually unstoppable”.


Pilot and tour operator Dick Lang died in the Kangaroo Island fire. (ABC News)

Dick Lang’s family said he had been married to his “beloved wife” Helen for more than 55 years and said he had four sons and seven grandchildren.

“Helen and the family are heartbroken and reeling from this double tragedy and are touched by people’s thoughts at this difficult time,” it said.

“We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the CFS volunteers, police and members of the Kangaroo Island community who are doing so much to help all those on the Island affected by these catastrophic fires.”

There were gasps of shock at a community meeting on the island in Kingscote when police confirmed the two deaths.

Hundreds of people later stood for a minute’s silence, and SA Premier Steven Marshall has also expressed his condolences for the victims.

“Very tragic news for South Australia as we learn this morning that two people have died in the fires,” he said.

Video: Kangaroos flee a massive blaze on Kangaroo Island.

(ABC News)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced 3,000 Australian Defence Force reservists will be deployed to fire recovery across the nation, including some on Kangaroo Island.

“[A taskforce] will be stood up for South Australia particularly focusing on Kangaroo Island at present,” he said.

Mr Marshall said he had spoken to Mr Morrison this morning, and said the 9th Brigade based in Adelaide was poised to help.

The Premier said all buildings in the Flinders Chase National Park had been “very extensively” damaged.

“The fires that occurred yesterday were significantly worse than in 2007 in Flinders Chase because they took out all of the building infrastructure,” he said.


The ruins of a house after a bushfire ripped through on Kangaroo Island. (Supplied)

SA Tourism said there were unconfirmed reports of damage to local tourism assets including the island’s Visitor and Information Centre, the KI Wilderness Retreat and Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

The threat on the western half of the island was downgraded to an advice message, but the Ravine fire is still out of control.

Fire expected to continue to burn for days

There were concerns the Ravine fire would merge with another in the middle of the island as weather conditions deteriorated on Friday, but that fire at Duncan has since been contained after burning 18,000 hectares.

Mr Marshall said Vivonne Bay on the island’s south coast had been evacuated during the fire crisis but the blaze was prevented from spreading to the township.


Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island after fire ripped through. (ABC News)

About 350 personnel were fighting the fires overnight, including those from the State Emergency Service, the Metropolitan Fire Service and the Department for Environment and Water.

That has since increased to 500 firefighters, and the state’s emergency centre has been activated.

“The weather today should give our crews the opportunity to start to get on top, although we expect that the fires will burn for some days,” CFS chief officer Mark Jones said.

“During yesterday’s dramatic fire conditions, the Turkey Lane airfield from which our bombers operated had to be evacuated and aircraft relocated to Kingscote.

“I would emphasise to everyone this is not over. The fire season is in its infancy.”

A weather station at Western River on the island’s north coast has recorded evidence of the intensity of the Ravine blaze.


Western River weather station recorded an apparent temperature of 428C. (Bureau of Meteorology)

The station yesterday recorded a reading of 99.9 degrees Celsius and an apparent temperature of exactly 428C as the fire ripped through.

The Bureau of Meteorology said it had not been able to confirm the condition of the temperature sensor, which is continuing to emit readings, but believes it has been severely damaged.

Fires on Kangaroo Island have been burning for more than two weeks, after initially breaking out on December 20 — the same day as the Cudlee Creek blaze in the Adelaide Hills.

Locals urged to limit water use

Residents on the island have been asked to limit any non-essential water usage, because of fire impacts of the Middle River Water Treatment Plant.

External Link:

SA Water tweet: Important advice for our #KangarooIsland customers #KIFires #SAFires @SA_SES

SA Water said delaying activities such as washing laundry and watering lawns would help preserve water storage levels to ensure enough was available for drinking and responding to spot fires.

Many properties on the island are currently without power.

There is a relief centre at the Kingscote Football Club, where hundreds of people have gathered.

SeaLink, which operates the ferry between Penneshaw and Cape Jervis, said up to 300 people at the Kingscote relief centre were waiting to be taken back to the mainland.

The company said it was working to transport those people as a priority.

SeaLink said all non-essential travel to the island should be deferred, and offered full refunds to anyone with a ticket.


Tourists and locals are leaving Kangaroo Island on the SeaLink ferry from Penneshaw. (ABC News: Claire Campbell)

Cruise & Maritime Voyages Australia’s Vasco da Gama cruise ship was due to dock in Penneshaw on Saturday but instead is staying off the coast with 1,267 passengers on board.

“The escalating, uncontrolled bushfires burning on Kangaroo Island means our scheduled anchorage call to Penneshaw has understandably been cancelled,” managing director Dean Brazier said.

“We have, however, offered to provide evacuation assistance if required for the locals and tourists who remain on the island.

“As a result, the ship has proceeded to Penneshaw and is anchored a safe distance from the coast to be on standby this morning to assist with a possible evacuation plan to the mainland.”


An unknown number of properties have been destroyed by the fire. (Supplied)

Operators of the Southern Ocean Lodge near the Flinders Chase National Park said the resort suffered “significant damage”.

There had been concerns the central town of Parndana might be lost, but the CFS said it appeared to have been saved.

“Anecdotally, we believe a finger of fire may have come close to Parndana, but again until we can get some eyes on the ground in the daylight we believe Parndana has not been impacted by the main front of the fire,” state duty commander Nick Stanley said.


Hundreds of firefighters have responded to the island’s bushfire crisis. (Facebook: Leon Bignell)

Cool change reduces threat

Mr Stanley said a welcome change came through last night.

External Link:

tweet roads closed

“Once we saw those conditions ease around midnight–1am we saw the southerly impact start to slow down and with that the relative humidity came up to around 85 per cent across the island so that did significantly help with the decreasing the fire behaviour,” he said.

He said the rain had “greatly assisted” in dampening the fire’s ferocity.

“Crews are able to get a bit closer and deal with the active fire edges rather than having to go into asset protection mode so hopefully that moderation in fire behaviour allows them to get some good work done today,” he said.

The Environment Protection Authority has rated western Adelaide’s air quality as poor and fair in eastern, southern and northern Adelaide, as smoke drifts from Kangaroo Island across the city and areas to the north.

The air quality in Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Whyalla is currently rated as poor.

Department for Health and Wellbeing chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said people with chest or heart conditions should stay indoors when smoke or dust is present and follow their personal health management plans.

“We appreciate that many people will want to open their doors and windows to help cool down their homes but we recommend keeping doors and windows shut while there are still high levels of smoke and dust in the air,” Associate Professor Spurrier said.


A CFS crew looks towards the fire ground on Kangaroo Island on Friday evening. (ABC News)

Meanwhile, crews have worked through the night to contain a fire that sparked at Kersbrook in the Adelaide Hills early yesterday evening.

About 150 firefighters, 25 fire trucks, four bulk water carriers and two heavy plant machines worked to bring the 20ha blaze under control.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

‘Unstoppable’ bushfire engulfs large areas of Kangaroo Island

Kingscote 5223

Fire crews in South Australia have spent the night battling an emergency bushfire on Kangaroo Island, which is threatening to engulf most of Australia’s third-largest island.

Key points:

  • The CFS is battling an emergency blaze on the western half of Kangaroo Island
  • The island townships of Vivonne Bay and Parndana have been evacuated
  • Ferries are running to get people off the island, and last-resort refuges have been set up

On Friday night, Kangaroo Island’s Ravine fire was described as “virtually unstoppable” and the Country Fire Service (CFS) has issued bushfire warnings for the entire 4,400-square-kilometre island.

At 3:00am Saturday, a watch and act warning was issued for the western end of the island, which includes areas west of Parndana such as Flinders Case, Vivonne Bay, Kelly Hill, Western River, Hanson Bay, Gosselands, Middle River and Stokes Bay.

People located in these areas are urged to leave now as a scrub fire is burning in various locations in the area.

An advice warning is in also place for properties east of Parndarna in the areas of Menzies, Seddon and Seal Bay, including Kingscote and Penneshaw.

People on the eastern half of the island are urged to remain alert and monitor local conditions.

External Link:

@CFSAlerts tweet: There are two warnings for the #Kangaroo_Island fire. A Watch and Act (yellow) for the western end and an Advice (blue) for the eastern end of the island. Kingscote and Penneshaw have identified Bushfire Safer Places, and it is safe to stay within these locations.

Kingscote and Penneshaw, located on the island’s east, have been identified as Bushfire Safer Places.

The distance from Flinders Chase National Park, where the fire is burning on the western end of the island, to the main town of Kingscote in the east, is about 85 kilometres.

Kangaroo Island Mayor Michael Pengilly has reported significant property damage to hotels and facilities around Flinders Chase National Park.


Multiple scrub fires continue to burn across Kangaroo Island’s western half, such as this one in Cape Torrens. (Twitter: Glen Bubner)

Up to 150,000 hectares has already been burnt on Kangaroo Island as 150 CFS personnel work to stop the fire’s spread.

CFS deputy chief officer Andrew Stark said the fire conditions “prevailed for far longer than we hoped for” and the fire was “moving in a dangerous manner towards the east”.

“The ferry service will continue to operate for people to get off the island,” he said.

He said the fire was much larger than the 2007 Kangaroo Island blaze, which destroyed 95,000 hectares.


Bushfire plumes pictured near De Mole River, Kangaroo Island around 6:00pm last night. (Twitter: Glen Bubner)

Tourist attractions ablaze on Kangaroo Island

Mr Michael Pengilly said the island’s Visitor Information Centre and Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat had been destroyed.

He said the Western KI Caravan Park and Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary had also been significantly impacted.

In a statement, Baillie Lodges, which owns the Southern Ocean Lodge, said the tourist attraction had “sustained significant damage” and all guests and staff were evacuated to Kingscote or Adelaide.

External Link:

@itsdanibrown tweet: Some international context: In terms of area, Kangaroo Island is three times the size of London, over 1000km2 bigger than Rhode Island, and just over three times the size of Phoenix, Arizona. It’s not just some tiny island off SA’s mainland.

“A small team of six senior staff members remained on-site to monitor the situation and activate the lodge’s fire emergency plan,” it said

“While the lodge has sustained structural damage … no injuries have been sustained.”

Lodge owners James and Hayley Baillie said initial plans were already at hand to rebuild the award-winning luxury lodge.

“We are absolutely shocked and saddened by today’s events,” they said.

Video: Kangaroos flee from the fire scene on Kangaroo Island.

(ABC News)

The Ravine fire is burning through the Flinders Chase National Park in the island’s west and the CFS has said “firefighters are now unable to prevent the fire spreading”.

“You are in danger. Act now. Identify where you will seek shelter, preferably in a solid building. Only leave if your path is clear to a safer place,” the CFS said.

“Heat from the fire can kill you well before the flames reach you.”

Mr Pengilly said the main priority was “people — locals, visitors, firefighters”.

“The safety of humanity is the prime responsibility at this stage,” he said.


Bushfire plumes seen west of Cape Torrens yesterday afternoon. (Twitter: Glen Bubner)

“It has been absolutely devastating. It’s a natural fire, it all started with lightning — it’s Australia, it’s summer and it all started with lightning and the north coast looks like it has been hit by a nuclear bomb.

“Flinders Chase is going to come out of this badly. You can’t stop this thing at the moment, it’s bloody impossible.”

The CFS extended the emergency zone for the Ravine fire to include Vivonne Bay at about 6:00pm, as emergency services worked to evacuate the tourist hub. Parndana has also been evacuated.

‘Truly horrific conditions’ as ‘fire twisters’ flare

Footage of a so-called “fire twister” has revealed the intensity of the flames on the island.

Local resident Brenton posted video to social media of one of several fire twisters breaking out in the inferno, as well as kangaroos fleeing the flames.


A shed and trailer destroyed by the fire on Kangaroo Island. (Facebook: Leon Bignell MP)

Kangaroo Island is one of several districts across the state under a total fire ban, with extreme fire danger declared for the island.

A relief centre has been established at the Kingscote Football Club on Centenary Avenue.

Flinders Chase National Park has been closed until further notice, along with several other conservation areas on the island and the mainland.

Kangaroo Island is expecting to host a number of cruise ships in the coming days, anchoring off the coast of Penneshaw.

Mr Stark said a decision would be made on Saturday morning about whether those crews will be allowed to dock.


Smoke fills the sky near Lucindale as fire destroys farmland in South Australia’s south-east. (Facebook: Greg Fisher)

Police charge man with ‘masquerading’ as fire victim

In the Adelaide Hills, an emergency warning was declared for a fire at Kersbrook late on Friday afternoon but was later downgraded to a watch and act.

In a statement, SA Police said a 59-year-old man was on Friday charged with deception after allegedly “masquerading as a bushfire victim” to receive a benefit.

“His actions have caused a great deal of concern in the Adelaide Hills and police appreciate the information provided by the public which has facilitated his swift arrest,” it stated.

He will appear in the Mount Barker Magistrates Court next month.

Earlier this week, a 39-year-old Murray Bridge woman was charged with falsely claiming to be a bushfire victim to “obtain donations to the value of $300” from a local church.

Adelaide hit 42.1 degrees Celsius at 3:20pm on Friday, with even hotter temperatures inland, including 44.8C at Port Augusta, 45.4C at Wudinna and 45.6C at Tarcoola.


CFS crews mop up after a hay fire in Mount Torrens. (ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Suspicious blaze comes close to SA campground but Cudlee Creek fire contained

Adelaide 5000

As South Australian firefighters continue to battle blazes that broke out during catastrophic conditions on Monday, a suspicious grassfire has come close to a popular camping area south of Adelaide.

Key points:

  • Temperatures reached the mid-40s in some parts of the state on Monday
  • A bushfire at Keilira has burned through about 25,000 hectares
  • The CFS says it believes a number of properties have been lost at Keilira

The fire, at Second Valley on the Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide, was an unwelcome sight to campers as it burned in hills overlooking the Rapid Bay caravan park.

“I saw flames going up the hill, and it was on the ground as well. It was really daunting,” local resident Anika Wollaston said.

“The campground is pretty much full, and many campers were looking at the blaze.

“A lot of campers were just packing up and leaving.”

The Country Fire Service (CFS) earlier issued a watch and act message, before it was downgraded and police are now the treating the fire as deliberately lit.


A fire has come close to the Rapid Bay campground on the Fleurieu Peninsula. (Facebook: Ahlia Olley)

Water bombers were called to assist firefighters and 10 appliances on the ground.

Nearly 40,000 hectares have burned across the state over the past 24 hours, with several bushfires yet to be controlled.

See how the day unfolded in our blog

A blaze at Ravine in Kangaroo Island has sent smoke across the Adelaide sky, with the Bureau of Meteorology expecting the haze to continue into tomorrow.

A watch and act message remains in place for that fire in the island’s north-west.

For the first time since breaking out more than 11 days ago, the deadly Cudlee Creek fire in the Adelaide Hills has been declared contained but remains at advice level.

External Link:

BOM tweet: Smoke from the #KangarooIsland bushfires is extending across the #Adelaide sky. Smoke is mostly in the upper atmosphere but we may see some smoke haze tomorrow morning. For the revellers out a midnight the temperature in Adelaide is likely to be around 17°C for the start of 2020.

The CFS said smouldering tree stumps would likely cause flare-ups over the coming weeks.

It offered a “huge thankyou” to volunteers who responded to the emergency.

“Volunteers and staff will continue to work on this fire by patrolling, checking, planning and extinguishing, up until the fire is able to be declared complete,” it said.

“The community response to this fire has been exceptional.”

Authorities have begun to assess the full damage of Monday’s catastrophic conditions.

At least three homes have been destroyed by a bushfire which also killed thousands of livestock and burned through almost 25,000 hectares at Keilira in the state’s south-east.

Local resident Phil Clarke returned to inspect the remains of his property at nearby Bin Bin on Tuesday.

Mr Clarke was fighting the fire at its ignition point on Monday when the wind changed direction, putting his wife Anthea and their home in the firing line.

He said he made a frantic call over the radio to warn her.

“I said, ‘Just grab a bag mate or don’t even grab it, just go with what’s on you’ and she said, ‘OK’. I was yelling, ‘Just go, go, go,'” he said.

“I had to drive through 6 kilometres of flames with the trees each side burning, I didn’t know if I was going to get there or not.”


CFS officers and volunteers pick up debris from the road following strong winds and fires in SA. (ABC News: Stacey Lee)

While Mr Clarke and his wife managed to escape the inferno, their home of more than 18 years was destroyed, and Mr Clarke said he had lost “everything”.

“Eight hundred bales of hay, the lads are going through the sheep and cattle to see what we’ve lost, probably 40 kilometres of fence and the house,” he said.

Properties lost but many more saved, CFS says

Incident controller at the Keilira bushfire, Richard De Groot, said the fire had a perimeter of more than 80 kilometres.

“I can say that we understand there are three structures that have been impacted, but we don’t know the makeup of [those],” he said.


Scrubland burns at Keilira, in the south-east of SA. (Supplied: CFS)

He said while some properties were damaged, firefighters should be applauded for their work to save many more.

“What I can say is yesterday the firefighters made some excellent saves, I understand over 20 properties were being impacted on and as a result of our firefighters they were protected or saved,” he said.

South Australian MP Nick McBride, who is the local member for Mackillop in the south-east, said he had also heard of three properties damaged by the Keilira fire, and countless livestock had been killed.


Firefighters swiftly got on top of several flare-ups. (ABC News: Stacey Lee)

He said the Keilira fire had devastated prime cropping land, with farmers beginning the grim task of euthanising injured animals.

“Infrastructure-wise, I’m hearing two or three haysheds which were full, I’m hearing at least three houses have been lost, no lives and look this is very early days,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.

“We’re hearing severe stock losses … we’re talking thousands.

“A lot of that is the euthanising of stock and destroying and cleaning up.”

He said many producers were caught out by the wind change that came through on Monday, which changed the direction of the fire.

“Some large grazing properties have been really, severely affected,” he said.

“It burned out, I’m hearing nearly 95 per cent of property on the northern side of Keilira because of the wind change from a northerly direction to a westerly and blew the fire to the east.

“People had put their stock up out of the way of the fire coming in a southerly direction and it’s basically cooked a lot of stock and caused a lot of misfortune for a lot of farmers up in this area.”


A lightning strike over Sheringa, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. (Supplied: @samanthalodgephotography/Instagram)

Fires fanned by strong winds on Monday also caused power outages for thousands of customers on the Eyre Peninsula, with power restored just before midnight.

CFS chief officer Mark Jones on Monday said the south-east fire had run through a large area of grassland.

“It is believed to have been caused by a dry lightning strike and is running through scrub and grassland,” he said.

Video: ABC News reporter Brittany Evins captured this footage of a dust storm while driving back to Adelaide from the Riverland.

(ABC News)

‘Pretty challenging weather conditions’

CFS communications officer Brett Williamson this morning said firefighters were challenged by the extreme conditions on Monday, all across the state.

“Yesterday presented some pretty challenging weather conditions for us with the heat and wind that changed direction throughout the day,” he said.

“At around 6:30pm last night we had attended 154 different incidents across the state, we had 135 fire trucks active on firegrounds with about 540 CFS personnel.”


CFS crews take some downtime amid the Cudlee Creek bushfire in the Adelaide Hills. (ABC News: Catherine Zengerer)

Cooler weather is expected to help firefighters control bushfires burning across the state over the next two days, with forecast temperatures in the mid-20s.

However, the CFS is concerned ahead of another day of hot and windy conditions on Friday, which is forecast to rise above 40C.

“Conditions are better for us today, so now will be the time where we really do try and make some headway and be able to get some better ground covered on some of these fires before the heat returns on Friday,” he said.

“It’s been a really tough couple of weeks for our volunteer crews and they’ve done a fantastic job over, particularly the last 24 hours, to make sure that all their work is paid off and none of these fires that were already existing jumped out.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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