Friday rain dampens Australian bushfires

Friday, January 10, 2020

Firefighters are continuing to battle out of control bushfires on Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia (SA).

Authorities on Thursday issued two emergency warnings for Kangaroo Island (KI) after fires that have been burning since December were exacerbated by catastrophic conditions.

Rain on Friday morning delivered much-needed relief for firefighters after a night that Country Fire Service (CFS) Incident Controller Ian Tanner described as "brutal".

"Essentially everybody that's here working on this fire, not only have they had a big day yesterday and done their best, but they've had disrupted sleep last night," said Tanner.

Two people, a father and son, have died and more than a third of the island has burned in fires since December.

Addressing the bushfire crisis that has devastated much of the island, Kangaroo Island Mayor Michael Pengilly on Thursday called for forestry to be "forbidden" on the island going forward, describing the practice as "a categorical disaster".

"These blue gum plantations and pine plantations have made it almost impossible to control fires when they come out of parks, because they just act like giant wicks that drag it through and then we can't get on top of them," he told News Corp Australia.

"I want to see forestry written off the agenda on Kangaroo Island."

More than 800 properties on the island were without electricity on Friday morning as the result of a fire-related outage.

Grave fears are still held for the island's diverse wildlife.

Approximately 25 000 koalas, half the island's population, are feared dead. – Xinhua