As the lightning-caused Ravine Fire on Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia continues to grow to the east new evacuations have been ordered. In anticipation of high fire danger on Thursday the South Australian Country Fire Service has taken the unusual step of calling on police to help evacuate the town of Vivonne Bay on the south side of the island. There are concerns that the fire could cross control lines and burn into areas with heavy fuel loading near the town of 400 residents.
The weather forecast on Thursday calls for winds east to northeasterly 25 to 35 km/h increasing to 40 km/h before shifting westerly 20 to 30 km/h in the late afternoon.
The 164,000-hectare (405,000-acre) fire has had a major impact on the wildlife while burning over a third of the island. It has been called a Noah’s Ark since it supports species that are not found in large numbers in other locations.
Several organizations on the island are caring for koalas that have been injured in the fire. About 50 have been brought to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, but at least one-third had to be euthanized due to extreme burns. The Guardian reports that Sam Mitchell, co-owner of the park, estimates that of the estimated 50,000 koalas on the island “probably more than half” would have perished in the fires, but it was “a guessing game”.
There is also concern about other species including the Kangaroo Island dunnart, glossy black-cockatoo, wallabies, pygmy possums, and the rare green carpenter bee.
Heartbreaking images of Kangaroo Island, before fire and after fire. 💔 pic.twitter.com/Oq6XtfRzh9
— Mustaqim Jiwa (@_serbanputih) January 8, 2020
‘Two young people have rescued several koalas from forest fires in Kangaroo Island, Australia
This species, one of the most affected by fires, could enter the list of extinct animals in several places. ‘ (IG-graciasdiostv) 🐨🦸♂️👏🏽 pic.twitter.com/br5VjE6T2j
— Yougle Fact (@YougleFact) January 8, 2020