SA Country Fire Service

Media release


People travelling through APY Lands to remain vigilant as hundreds of thousands of hectares burn



CFS volunteers who are actively monitoring and responding to an unprecedented number of bushfires severely impacting the APY Lands and North West Pastoral landscape have protected a number of sensitive areas, as well as homelands and key infrastructure across the APY Lands, and say the greatest risk of the continuing fires is for people travelling in the area.

Firefighters have been conducting back burns and patrolling more than 300km in the North West Pastoral area, from the Western Australian border through to Pukatja (Ernabella), to ensure affected communities are protected from multiple fires ignited by a dry lightning band on Wednesday evening.

CFS Acting Regional Commander, Peter Ikonomopoulos, said communities in the vicinity of these fires are well prepared due to hazard reduction burns conducted prior to the season and fire breaks which have been reinforced, but members of the public travelling must remain vigilant.

"I've never seen so many fires in the last seven years I've worked up here," Mr Ikonomopoulos said.

"There has been significant work undertaken within local communities to create fire breaks and reduce fuel loads but there is still a high risk for anyone travelling in the area who isn't aware of changing conditions."

"These bushfires are expected to continue burning for a number of months, so people travelling through the area need to understand the risk, listen to local radio for updates and subscribe to CFS warnings, and be ready to enact their Bushfire Survival Plan," he said.

Volunteers are being supported by South Australia Police, Regional Anangu Services Aboriginal Corporation and APY Land Management personnel.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares across the APY Lands and North West Pastoral landscape have already burned, with the fires predominantly fuelled by buffel grass which covers swathes of land and is known to burn extremely hot.

"Crews have experienced some erratic fire behaviour at times with the fires burning in buffel grass, scrub, native grasses and mulga trees, which in some areas is already 100 per cent cured," Mr Ikonomopoulos said.

"Back burning is the primary tactic being used by crews managing the fires with aerial firefighting not a viable option, due to the duration it takes for the aircraft to get here and the considerable amount of land the fires are burning in."

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts temperatures for most of the state to reach above 40 degrees today, some of the highest figures on record.

MEDIA PLEASE NOTE: Images from the fire ground are available for distribution.

People traveling through APY Lands to remain vigilant as hundreds of thousands of hectares burn

Media information
For media enquiries call the CFS Media Line on 08 8115 3531.

Government of South Australia