Kangaroo Island's Vivonne Bay to be evacuated ahead of Thursday fire danger, PM visits island

| 09.01,20. 03:06 AM |

Kangaroo Island's Vivonne Bay to be evacuated ahead of Thursday fire danger, PM visits island

Photo: Vivonne Bay is to the south-east of the burnt area on Kangaroo Island shown in crosshatch. (CFS)

The South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) says it has taken the unprecedented step to call on police to help evacuate the Kangaroo Island town of Vivonne Bay ahead of deteriorating weather on Thursday.

CFS incident controller Ray Jackson said people were being asked to move to Kingscote or Penneshaw where camp sites were being set up.

The fires have so far burnt 170,000 hectares and claimed two lives.

Mr Jackson said the out-of-control bushfire towards the west of Parndana could break containment lines during worsening weather on Thursday and impact communities, including Vivonne Bay, which has a population of about 400.

He said Vivonne Bay had a particularly high fuel load compared to other areas near the active fire.

"We think if the fire does get up and running tomorrow and breaks control lines that we will be at a point where we need to get those people out," Mr Jackson said.

"We're better off to do that early.

"Our ability to protect them in that particular environment given the fuel loads that are there is extremely limited."

He urged people north of Vivonne Bay in Parndana and Andamel to "remain vigilant" and to put their bushfire survival plans into action.

PM visits bushfire zone, says he saw the 'spirit of Australia'

Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with Kangaroo Island residents on Wednesday, following visits to several other fire-impacted regions in Australia.

Mr Morrison encouraged people to return to the tourist destination in the coming months.

"What you see of the spirit of Australia is what I saw where those families I met with this morning, some of whom have lost their homes, some of whom have lost their properties, and have lost thousands and thousands of stock … they do, stand together, support each other and commit to rebuild," he said.

In one exchange he said: "Thankfully, we've had no loss of life."

But went on to say: "Two. Yes two, that's quite right. I was thinking about firefighters firstly."

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said he was "referring to no loss of life of firefighters, as they were discussing the firefighting efforts".

The spokesperson said Mr Morrison had met with a relative of bush pilot Dick Lang and his youngest son Clayton, a highly respected surgeon, who died after attempting to fight the Ravine fire on the island last week.

He said it came days after his attendance at the funeral of RFS volunteer Andrew O'Dwyer and visiting the family of RFS volunteer Sam McPaul, who was also killed, in Holbrook yesterday.

Funding announced for grants

The South Australian and federal governments on Wednesday announced a multi-million-dollar funding package, allowing some immediate financial reprieve for small businesses and farmers.

Small businesses affected by the fires may be eligible for grants of up to $10,000, while primary producers and farmers can access up to $15,000.

"With estimates of some 100,000 stock lost here on Kangaroo Island, this is a catastrophic event here for that sector," Mr Morrison told media on the island.

"It's very important as part of the recovery that we rebuild the local economies as much as we rebuild the local infrastructure.

"That means supporting communities and getting in behind them to do just that.

"They know what they need to do."

Mr Morrison admitted he had not had the chance to tour the full extent of Kangaroo Island's devastated area because of the unfolding conflict between the United States and Iran.

"I saw the moonscape in the images shared by the Premier. You can rest assured I'm in no doubt of the devastation on the island," he said.

SA Premier Steven Marshall said the announcement of federal funding was a "big relief for people in South Australia".

"Our focus as a State Government now is to do everything we can to extinguish the fires that still exist in our state but very soon moving to full recovery mode," he said.

Severe weather rating for KI on Thursday

The fire danger rating for Kangaroo Island is severe for Thursday and a total fire ban is in place.

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a top of 38 degrees Celsius in Parndana on Thursday, with winds of up to 35 kilometres per hour.

SA Police Superintendent Mark Fairney said the pre-emptive evacuation was similar to another one done informally in Vivonne Bay last Friday, when only a "handful" of locals chose to stay.

He said police would not be anticipating "too much resistance".

"The message we will be giving to people at Vivonne Bay is it is time now," he said.

"We would stress very strongly that you move from your home, you go to a safer place at Penneshaw or Kingscote and there is some time to take some possessions.

"People need to be aware that it's an active fire, it's not under control and it's currently about 12km to the west of Parndana."

He said residents would be given advice not to return until 9:00am on Friday.

People would have time to take possessions, he said, but the advice would be that "it is time now" to leave.

Police are putting in roadblocks to prevent people driving to Vivonne Bay.


(Votes: 0)

Other News

Cyclone warnings issued in the Northern Territory as tropical low intensifies Bushfire protests targeting Scott Morrison to go ahead in Melbourne despite Victoria Police fears of 'resource drain' How Australians can protect themselves from bushfire appeal scammers Plea for people to stop donating goods directly to 'overwhelmed' fire-affected communities Police release CCTV of distinctive car in murder investigation Australia bushfires: Two men found after going missing on NSW south coast Video shows thief scooping up ATM with front-end loader in one-minute robbery How group of schoolgirls raised thousands for bushfires Lightning strikes two people in 10 minutes Man charged after Ferrari crashes into Sydney shopfront Tasmanian fire crews battling blazes prepare for 'spike' in weather conditions One dead, another remains missing from South Coast after horror weekend of fires Smoke-hit Canberra choking in world's dirtiest air Bushfire recovery bill starts at $2 billion but is set to grow Fires in Victoria destroy estimated 300 homes, former police chief to lead Bushfire Recovery Victoria Air quality in Melbourne and Geelong plummets as smoke shrouds Victorian cities in haze ADF in seven-day race to help bury hundreds of thousands of farm animals killed in bushfires, amid biosecurity fears Nullarbor evacuation underway after WA fires on Eyre Highway left hundreds stranded Calls for people to donate cash, not food, to help Victorian bushfire victims Homes flooded in Cooma during NSW fire emergency after water tank bursts لصوص يستهدفون رجال الإطفاء المتطوعين في تازمانيا Batemans Bay residents warned it's too late to leave Victoria bushfire: Emergency alerts as blazes intensify Queensland woman dies after getting trapped under ride-on lawn mower Canberra records its hottest temperature as fire conditions keep authorities on edge Police officer injured in 'riot' after thousands attend car meetup NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott admits his absence from NSW during bushfires was 'inexcusable' Stolen car causes crash, passenger arrested by citizen on busy Townsville shopping strip Sydney light rail breaks down due to power outage Mallacoota evacuations begin as thousands trapped by bushfires are transported to Navy ships