Grave fears Ravine Fire could spread further into Kangaroo Island wilderness, and even Flinders Chase National Park or farmland

The SA Country Fire Service hold graves fears that the uncontrolled Ravine fire could spread further south into wilderness and Flinders Chase National Park.

Even worse, the fire has the potential further east into Kangaroo Island into paddocks and plantations.

An Extreme fire weather rating has been confirmed for the Island on Friday, January 3, with shifting northeasterly and northwesterly winds early in the day, followed by a southerly change.

The scenarios were outlined by incident controller Ian Tanner at a community meeting at the Parndana Town Hall on Thursday afternoon, January 2.

Mr Tanner said the Ravine Fire was largely contained to the north where it had burned through DeMole and toward Snug Cove. Backburning was taking place in this area on Thursday.

But the real point of concern was in the remote Ravine Des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area on the southwestern flank of the fire, where it was burning uncontrolled in remote bushland.

The real concern was that the fire would start to spread further south in the wilderness area toward the south coast and Flinders Chase National Park, which remains closed indefinitely.

The CFS will attempt to hold the fire west of the West End Highway but there was a real possibility it could cross over and head east into farm properties and timber plantations.

Mr Tanner said the active fire in the wilderness area continued to be fought including by aircraft but it was looking like it stay uncontained by tomorrow.

"Unfortunately we have a little piece of fire outside that control line just north of Larrikin Lagoon," he said.

Mr Tanner, who was involved in the 2007 fires on KI, said the firefighters had put in a significant effort and got very close to containing it.

Latest fire map of the Ravine Fire on Kangaroo Island.

Latest fire map of the Ravine Fire on Kangaroo Island.

The local police sergeant said police would continue to work with the CFS on road blocks but he warned residents not to expect a knock on the door as there were not enough resources.

Lodges and accommodation providers on the south coast, including the Western KI Caravan Park and Southern Ocean Lodge had questions about whether guests should leave today.

The advice was that they should stay up to date with the weather and fire warnings.

There was some discussions on road closures and communication about how people could get out or back in.

Mayor Michael Pengilly asked about property or any building losses at DeMole but the CFS said too early for any damage assessment.

One north coast resident asked about the possibility of the fire breaking out further to the east on the north coast, to which the CFS said containment lines continued to be worked on but it was a possibility.

Head of National Parks on KI, Mike Greig gave an update on the park closures that would be assessed on a daily basis. The service was aware of the impact on tourism.

Kelly Hill Conservation Park on Kangaroo Island will now also be closed from tomorrow until further notice for public safety.

Seal Bay Conservation Park remains open. However, visitors should remain vigilant about the fire situation and think about their plan if things change.

A PIRSA representative reminded everyone the service was available to help farmers with stock losses.

KIPT director Shauna Black gave an update on the plantation timber situation and that the company and its own firefighters and a local earth mover were working with the CFS.

The fires had damaged significant amount of trees but would not impact on its plans Smith Bay timber port.

A KIPT statement to the stock exchange (see below) stated the company could look at barging damaged timber off the Island.

It was also announced that Jennifer Trethewey would be the new Kangaroo Island recovery officer working with the Department of Human Services.

She now has an office in the council building and would be also going out to meet those impacted on by the fire, but she said anyone should just sing out if they needed help.

Mr Pengilly reminded everyone of the BlazeAid meeting at Western Districts community club on 3pm on Sunday afternoon, while the council has organised a special meeting 11.30am at Parndana on Monday.

Safer places and camping spots

KI Council CEO Greg Georgopoulos wanted to get the message out that designated bushfire safer places on the Island were the towns of Kingscote and Penneshaw.

The oval at Kingscote meanwhile was the designated spot for displaced campers, where amenities were available.

Those on the south coast in the potential line of the fire from Karatta to Vivonne Bay whose fire plans were to leave should come into Kingscote and be with friends and family or go shopping or any other activity.

Mayor Michael Pengilly said he wanted to get the message out was that the rest of the Island was still open for business in this the peak tourism season that businesses relied on.

Premier visits Kangaroo Island

Premier Stephen Marshall meanwhile visited Kangaroo Island again and was taken on a tour of the efforts at Parndana by KI mayor Michael Pengilly.

The premier visited the KI base at the Parndana CFS station and the accommodation quarters set up on the oval.

He also visited Davo's Deli and the Parndana Hotel, where hundreds of meals were being prepared daily for the local and visiting firefighters. He then met with other stakeholders at the KI Airport.

Communication focus

State Member Leon Bignell through a social media campaign was able to get people to donate sufficient funds for multiple sets of UHF radios for the farm fire units.

These radios were set to arrive on the Island on Thursday afternoon and be provided to the local farmers fighting the fires with water tanks and pumps on the back of their utes.

There was some discussion at the meeting about the need for farmers to stay on UHF and preserve VHF for the CFS, but there was talk of coordinating the forward radio control.

Mayor Michael Pengilly meanwhile pointed out there was very limited phone and even TV and radio coverage on the west end, so the council was looking at the possibility of spending drought assessment money on new communication towers.

CFS safety information

To ensure the safety of lives, CFS asks that any BnB hosts or accommodation providers on Kangaroo Island make contact with guests that are booked into your accommodation over the coming days.

It is important to inform guests that there is current fire activity on the island, and with fire weather conditions worsening tomorrow, make them aware of the accommodation's Bushfire Survival Plan.

For people travelling to, or around the Island, the CFS recommends that you have a Bushfire Survival Plan. If you are travelling into an area that you're not familiar with, please plan ahead.

The CFS asks that the community on Kangaroo Island stays informed.

We are conscious that many people may be holidaying on the Island, and we ask that you remain alert and vigilant, given tomorrow's conditions.

Do not rely on a single source for emergency warning information. Download the Alert SA App, follow the CFS Facebook page or Twitter account and listen to the local radio station on a battery powered radio.

If you live, work or travel in an area where bushfires can occur you need to be aware of where you can relocate to if you are threatened by a bushfire.

There is a list of Bushfire Safer Places on the CFS website that we recommend you review before tomorrow.

There will be a number of National Parks on the Island, and across South Australia, that will be closed tomorrow, due to the extreme weather.

Visit https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/know-before-you-go/closures-and-alertsFor road closures, please visit www.traffic.sa.gov.au for any road closures that may affect you.

For specific information about road closures on Kangaroo Island, visit www.kangarooisland.sa.gov.au/notice-board/latest-news/road-closures

CFS community newsletter, Thursday, Jan. 2

A number of fires were started by lighting in December across Kangaroo Island. The Country Fire Service (CFS), SA National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS), Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) State Emergency Services (SES) and local landholders have been working hard to stop these fires spreading.

The Duncan fire on the northern side of the island was contained on Tuesday 31st December 2019. However, the two Ravine fires on the western end of the island remain uncontrolled and continue to present a threat to life and property.

The Ravine fires started approximately 5 km apart in inaccessible scrubland south of Cape Borda Road in the Ravine Des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area.

These fires have now merged and burnt a total of 9529 ha, including large areas of wilderness, private property and timber plantations.

Due the size and complexity of the fires and the terrain they are burning in, it is expected that the Ravine fire will continue to burn for a number of weeks.

The fire is expected to move in a north-easterly direction under the current south westerly wind. Due to local wind conditions, there is a significant amount of smoke in the area and current winds are pushing the smoke towards Kingscote.

Friday 3rd January is forecast as a day of Extreme fire danger with strong winds and hot conditions.

Park Closure To ensure community and visitor safety, NWPS are closing Flinders Chase National Park until further notice See: https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/know-before-you-go/closures-and-alerts

What we are doing? With the support of aircraft, firefighting activities are focussing on asset protection where safe to do so. Changing weather conditions and lack of visibility due to smoke may decrease their effectiveness.

CFS is currently evaluating various options to strategically contain this fire, including a number of backburns, It is likely that the Cape Torrens Wilderness Area, Cape Borda and large tracts of the Ravine Des Casoars Wilderness will be significantly impacted.

Road closures Extensive road closures are in place on the western end of Kangaroo Island. For further information visit www.traffic.sa.gov.au

What you can do?

  • . Check and follow your Bushfire Survival Plan
  • . Visit the CFS website: cfs.sa.gov.au and Facebook or Twitter
  • . Call the Bushfire Information Hotline 1800 362 361 (TTY 133 677)
  • . For hearing or speech impaired users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 1800 362 361
  • . Listen to local ABC radio, FIVEaa or one of the Emergency Services Broadcast Partners
  • Do not rely on a single source for bushfire warning information For emergencies call Triple Zero (000)

Recovery information for KI

Recovery information: Kangaroo Island

The SA Government is working closely with the Kangaroo Island community as it comes together to support those affected by the devastating bushfires. A number of relief and recovery initiatives are already underway.

Community Recovery Officer: The State Recovery Office has seconded Jennifer Trethewey from the Office of the Kangaroo Island Commissioner to the role of Community Recover Officer for Kangaroo Island. Ms Trethewey will help to coordinate SA Government support for the community-led relief and recovery efforts underway on the island.

Agricultural impact assessment: PIRSA is assessing agricultural losses on Kangaroo Island. A 24-hour hotline - 1800 255 556 - is available for primary producers seeking urgent assistance, information or to report agricultural losses. Visit the PIRSA website for more information.

Grants and financial assistance: The Federal Government has extended its Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance to Kangaroo Island residents impacted by the fires. The Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off payment of $1,000 per adult and $400 for each child under 16 years of age for people who've been seriously injured or whose home has been severely damaged or destroyed. The Disaster Recovery Allowance provides income support payments to employees, primary producers and sole traders who can demonstrate they have experienced a loss of income as a direct result of the bushfires. More information, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, is available on the Australian Government Department of Human Services website or phone 180 22 66.

People who are uninsured and have had their principal residence damaged by bushfires can apply for grants of up to $10,000 under the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. The grants can be used to help repair bushfire-damaged homes or replace essential household items.

For more information on eligibility please phone the SA Recovery Hotline on 1800 302 787 (8am - 8pm).

Mental health and wellbeing: People may experience grief or stress after a disaster like a bushfire. Sometimes the impact is obvious straight away but often it is a slow process. Free professional telephone and online counselling is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Regional Access. Phone 1300 032 186 for immediate support or visit the Regional Access website and follow the links for online counselling.

Insurance and clean up: The Insurance Council of Australia can help if you don't know who you're insured with or if you've lost insurance documents - phone their hotline on 1800 734 621 or visit www.disasters.org.au. Contact your insurance company before you start any clean up.

Donations: The most useful way to assist those directly affected is through cash donations, as this allows people to buy exactly what they need. You can donate funds to the St Vincent de Paul Society South Australian Bushfire Appeal via their website.

The donation of goods is not encouraged as it can pose challenges to administer and tie up the time of those in relief centres which limits their ability to assist those impacted who need our help the most.

Updates on recovery information: For the latest information on recovery efforts, please visit www.dhs.sa.gov.au/recovery. People directly affected by the fires who require information and assistance can phone the Recovery Hotline on 1800 302 787 (8am - 8pm).

KIPT statement to ASX

Two more of company's plantation in Ravine des Casoars area burnt. Pines at various stages of maturity and relatively mature eucalypts.

Further 971ha fire damaged. 7 per cent of estate.

Urgent salvage operations for own trees and independent growers.

Must be carried out immediately, before quality of timber deteriorates.

Bring forward harvest & replanting.

KI seaport will not be completed in time, therefore the company will pursue interim export solutions, including via barging, and looks forward

to the cooperation of local & state government to put necessary arrangementsin place without delay.

The opportunity to salvage fire affected plantations will bring forward employment & economic benefits.

Barging operation would not represent a permanent replacement to seaport.

Update on park closures

Kelly Hill Conservation Park on Kangaroo Island will now also be closed from tomorrow due to bushfire risk until further notice for public safety.

Seal Bay Conservation Park remains open. However, visitors should remain vigilant about the fire situation and think about their plan if things change.

Ten other parks and reserves across the Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island and Upper South East continue to be closed due to bushfire risk until further notice. These include:

  • Adelaide Hills: Cudlee Creek CP, Montacute CP, Porters Scrub CP and Charleston CP
  • Kangaroo Island: Flinders Chase NP, Cape Torrens WPA, Ravine de Casoars WPA and Western River WPA
  • Upper South East: Carcuma CP and Bunbury CP

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