28 Dec 2018

Total fire ban in South Australia with catastrophic fire conditions predicted

10:40 am on 28 December 2018

A forecast for hot and windy conditions has prompted South Australia's Country Fire Service to issue a catastrophic fire danger warning for the state's Mid North region today.

Spring Gully has been closed due to the fire danger.

Spring Gully has been closed due to the fire danger. Photo: Wikimedia

Total fire bans have been issued across the state with many regions predicted to hit more than 40 degrees Celsius, following high temperatures yesterday.

In South Australia's Mid North and Eastern Eyre Peninsula regions, the mercury in Port Augusta and Whyalla is predicted to hit 47C and 46C respectively, following both towns reaching 46.8C yesterday.

The Country Fire Service (CFS) said regions affected by the fire weather warning include the North West Pastoral, West Coast, Eastern Eyre Peninsula, Flinders, Mid North, Mount Lofty Ranges, Yorke Peninsula, Riverland and Murraylands.

Extreme Fire Danger is forecast for the West Coast, Eastern Eyre Peninsula, Flinders, Mount Lofty Ranges and Yorke Peninsula districts.

Meanwhile, the North West Pastoral, Riverland and Murraylands districts have had Severe Fire Danger warnings issued.

Hot, dry and windy conditions are forecast, with north to north-westerly winds increasing from 35 to 55 kilometres per hour.

The forecast predicts a gusty south-west to southerly wind change will move north during the afternoon and evening.

Isolated gusty thunderstorms are possible in the west and south of the state, with little rainfall expected. The forecast winds are predicted to raise dust in affected areas.

In a press conference on Thursday afternoon, CFS Duty Commander Nicholas Stanley said crews are bracing for the possibility of dry lightning hitting and potentially starting fires.

Tourists staying in affected regions warned

Mr Stanley also urged those travelling or on holiday to update their bushfire survival plans if they are staying in any affected districts.

"It only takes five minutes, but it's critical that people do that if they are in any of those districts that have those fire danger ratings."

"In some areas of the state, conditions will be that bad that it will be possible that it is not safe to stay and defend," Mr Stanley said.

"If you have a bushfire survival plan and your plan is to leave, I'd encourage you to make those arrangements now rather than leave it to the last minute, when it can potentially be too late and your life could be put at risk."

Mr Stanley urged the public to check on neighbours and family members.

The state's Department for Environment and Water has also closed 10 national parks and reserves today due to the fire danger.

Parks affected include Caroona Creek Conservation Park, Clements Gap Conservation Park, Clinton Conservation Park, Hopkins Creek Conservation Park, Mimbara Conservation Park, Mokota Conservation Park, Mount Remarkable National Park (Napperby Block only), Pandappa Conservation Park, Red Banks Conservation Park and Spring Gully Conservation Park.

The department's Fire State Duty Officer Ed Pikusa said the closures began at 12.01am and will be in place until midnight.

People who are already in the park are required to leave "first thing" this morning.

SA Police investigating suspicious grass fires

Late on Thursday evening, South Australian Police advised they had arrested a 30-year-old man over three grass fires believed to have been deliberately lit in Seaford Meadows.

About 6:10pm on Thursday, police and fire crews were called to Sauerbiers Road after members of the public reported smoke visible in the area.

Police discovered three fires burning in close proximity to one another along the road; the first of which was small and self-extinguished.

The second fire burnt approximately 200 square metres and the third burnt approximately one hectare of grass and shrubs.