An emergency warning has been issued for a bushfire near Keith in South Australia’s Upper South East, amid catastrophic weather conditions in parts of the state on Saturday.
Country Fire Service firefighters are battling the “serious bushfire”, with the warning current for Sherwood, McCallum and Makin.
“If you are in this area, you are in danger. There is a risk to your life and property. Act now. Only leave if the path is clear to a safer place. If you can’t leave, take shelter in a solid building and actively defend it,” a CFS statement said.
Sherwood is about 220 kilometres south-east of Adelaide.
The Dukes Highway was closed on Saturday afternoon but later reopened.
The Ngarkat Highway between Bordertown and Pinnaroo was closed to traffic, as was Emu Flat Road.
Late on Saturday afternoon, the CFS said 8,000 hectares of farmland and scrub had been burnt and the fire was moving in a north-easterly direction.
It also said at least two sheds had been destroyed and the flames had come close to a number of homes.
More than 150 firefighters have battled the blaze and authorities are yet to determine the cause.
Firefighters “shaken” by experience
There was also a frightening incident with one fire crew left “shaken” after the truck they were in was involved in a “burn over” with flames passing over the vehicle.
“The truck was burnt over, was run over by fire … they were in the truck at the time,” CFS assistant chief officer Daniel Austin said.
“The advice that we’ve got is that there were no injuries of that crew, however they are being checked by ambulance crews.”
Local resident Robyn Verrall said she tried to leave the scene but couldn’t.
“When I was trying to move out to the south, it (the fire) has jumped in front so I’ve had to turn back and come back to the house, terrified is the only word to describe it.”
Firefighters also were called to a blaze near McLaren Vale, south of Adelaide. The fire has been contained but machinery worth about $1.5 million has been destroyed.
The CFS was on its highest level of alert on Saturday and extra waterbombers were on standby, after experts forecast the worst fire conditions in the state since the Pinery fire of late 2015, which claimed two lives.
The fire danger risk was rated as catastrophic in the Mount Lofty Ranges and upper and lower south-east districts, and total fire bans were place across the state.
At 7:00pm the temperature in Adelaide was still 33 degrees Celsius and the CFS had been called to more than twenty fires.
In country South Australia, Port Augusta reached 46C, Renmark 46C, Port Pirie 45C and 45C at Whyalla.
On Saturday afternoon the Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe thunderstorm warning for damaging winds in parts of the north east pastoral.
A cool change is crossing South Australia, Adelaide’s predicted top temperature for Sunday a much cooler 28C.