Green shoots, black water - Kangaroo Island bushfires "controlled" as rain falls

Molly Watters and Evie Hammatt play in the mud at Western River after the rain drenched bushfire ravaged Kangaroo Island.

Molly Watters and Evie Hammatt play in the mud at Western River after the rain drenched bushfire ravaged Kangaroo Island.

The Ravine fire on Kangaroo Island was officially declared "controlled" on Friday, January 31, following widespread rain across the Island.

The CFS continues to mop up and monitor the 210,000-hectare fire ground, looking for hot spots that could still flare up in weeks ahead.

Locals rejoiced on Friday last week as the rain fell on the burned and blackened land, causing creeks to run and dams to fill.

Totals varied widely with the mayor Michael Pengilly reporting 84mm at his property at Wisanger, while just to the east at Stokes Bay, Jenny Stanton reported only 15mm.

Despite the rain, there was a report from local RoAnna Horbelt of yet another fire flare up at Stokes Bay on Sunday.

Green shoots meanwhile have been spotted growing from vegetation in burned ground.

Tour guide Nikki Redman was among those posting photos of new life sprouting from mallees and other native vegetation.

Friday's deluge also caused creeks to flow, including at Western River where a torrent of black water laden with ash and debris made its way out to sea.

Floodwaters flowing into Middle River reservoir. Photo SA Water

Floodwaters flowing into Middle River reservoir. Photo SA Water

In anticipation of last week's heavy rain, SA Water actioned sediment control measures in the Middle River catchment to help minimise potential water quality challenges.

"While sediment and ash entering a catchment after some fire events can potentially impart a slight smoky taste or odour to the water, it remains safe to drink," SA Water said.

"There is currently no impact to the quality of local customers' water supply, and SA Water will continue to monitor this with regular sampling and testing, and keep the community updated."

Flooding also forced the partial evacuation at the CFS staging area at the KI Airport that became partially flooded on Friday.

The ADF reservists from the Army continue to do their relief and recovery work as part of Operation Bushfire Assist.

ADF in the rain
Australian Army soldier runs through the rain at Kingscote, Kangaroo Island during Operation Bushfire Assist 2019-2020. Photo ADF

Australian Army soldier runs through the rain at Kingscote, Kangaroo Island during Operation Bushfire Assist 2019-2020. Photo ADF

Officially "controlled"

Fires have been burning on Kangaroo Island since December 20 when several lightning strikes sparked the Duncan and Menzies fires on the Island's north coast.

Additional lightning strikes on December 30 sparked a new fire in the Ravine des Casoars wilderness area, which then two weeks spread over the western end of the Island, merging with the other fires, becoming known as the Ravine fire.

"On Friday, January 31 the SA Country Fire Service declared the Kangaroo Island Fire Complex as controlled after it has burnt approximately 48 per cent of the island, 210,606 hectares," the latest CFS incident update reads.

"This doesn't mean the fire has been completely extinguished as there are still areas within the burnt ground that have shown fire actively and have caused concern for the local community."

Overnight Thursday, significant rainfall created further challenges for firefighters working on the fire ground. On Friday afternoon firefighters left the fire ground due to safety issues, as the ground became flooded and unsafe to work on.

Crews over the weekend from the CFS, SA Metropolitan Fire Service and National Parks once again actively patrolled the fire ground, mopping up and look for hot spots.

The CFS is encouraging landholders to actively patrol their properties, if community members see smoke and need assistance they are asking them to call the Incident Management Team on 8553 4446.

Firefighters are using thermal imaging equipment to identify where fire continues to burn under the ground, several areas across the fire ground are been identified for ongoing attendance by fire fighters.

Hot spots can create further risks as they may flare up over the next few weeks.

Fire crews continue to work in collaboration with all agencies from Kangaroo Island and personnel from the mainland, this will continue until the fire is declared to be safe.

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