Homes damaged in SA bushfire as southern states swelter in heatwave | South Australia

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Up to eleven buildings, including at least two houses, are believed to have been damaged as a bushfire continues to burn out-of-control in the hills southeast of Adelaide.

The SA Country Fire Service duty commander, Yvette Dowling, told reporters CFA teams were assessing the damage.

“We do believe that there’s two houses, we are not sure whether they’re damaged or destroyed at this point and a couple of sheds,” Dowling said. “But we do believe that there could be up to 11 structures of some sort, but we’re not sure if they were domestic dwellings or outbuildings at this stage.”

More than 400 firefighters were working to control the blaze, which has burned more than 2,500 hectares of land and has recorded a fire perimeter of 24km.

The emergency warning for the Cherry Gardens fire in the Adelaide Hills has now been downgraded to a Watch and Act. The message was issued for Heathfield, Longwood, Mylor, Bradbury, Biggs Flat, Scott Creek, Cherry Gardens, Mount Bold and Chapel Hill in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

Dowling said conditions were looking “really good” for Monday afternoon which would give firefighters a chance to bring the fire under control.

“Rain will come in. The wind will drop out. The relative humidity will come up, which will decrease the fire behaviour.”

Dowling said it was unlikely the fire would be put out because of the thick vegetation in the area and that fires would probably continue into the next week.

South Australia’s Department for Health and Wellbeing has also issued a warning about smoke across the the state caused by the bushfires in Cherry Gardens.

The department advised people with chest or heart conditions to stay indoors where possible, avoid physical exercise outdoors and reduce their exposure to smoky air.

Meanwhile, a 60-year-old man was expected to appear in court on Monday charged with starting a bushfire in the Adelaide Hills after speeding away from police patrolling the area.

The fire was put out by members of the public and caused minimal damage, police said.

Detectives were investigating whether this fire is linked with others in the area.

On Sunday an emergency warning was issued for nearby Echunga and Macclesfield in the Mount Lofty Ranges, but this has since been downgraded “watch and act” overnight.

While Adelaide and Sydney bared the brunt of the heat on Sunday, with temperatures climbing above 40C, hot air that built up in the interior deserts drifted towards Victoria on Monday.

A total fire ban has been declared for the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, North Central, North East and East Gippsland districts.

“The next 24 hours will see the most significant fire risk posed to this state so far this season,” said the state’s Country Fire Authority chief officer, Jason Heffernan, on Sunday.

“Tomorrow is going to see a significant amount of wind, which will really build those fire dangers. Some parts of the state will see 50-60km/h wind gusts.”

Duty forecaster for the Bureau of Meteorology in Victoria, Lachlan Stoney, told Guardian Australia many regional towns and cities would suffer through temperatures above 40C.

“Generally speaking, north of the divide, temperatures are much warmer … Shepparton is one of the standouts, forecasts are maximum 43C,” he said.

“Bendigo, 40C, and usually Mildura are hotter, but it’s set for a maximum of 39C.”

This stretches north of the border with New South Wales, with Riverina facing hot, dry and windy conditions. Total fire bans were issued for the Northern, Southern and Eastern regions.

In Melbourne temperatures were forecast to peak in the afternoon around 39C but luckily for the thousands of workers who have recently returned to the office, Stoney said a cool change was expected to hit the city around 5pm, rapidly dropping temperatures by 10C to 15C.

Suburbs in Melbourne’s west were on smoke alert because of a fire at a recycling centre, which took 40 minutes for firefighters to bring under control.

A cool change was expected to move north, bringing relief to the regional cities later in the evening.

However, the heatwave was expected to then be pushed further into NSW, which would bear the brunt of the heat on Tuesday.

Temperatures were predicted rise to between 38C and 41C in western Sydney and hover around 32C in the city thanks to a sea breeze.

Canberra was also forecast to swelter, reaching the mid-30s before an evening shower.

With additional reporting from AAP





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