Bushfire has burned almost half of Kangaroo Island

Two Country Fire Service trucks were involved in burn-overs

Map Ravine Fire Kangaroo Island
Map showing the extent of the Ravine Fire on Kangaroo Island, January 12, 2020. South Australian Country Fire Service.

The Ravine Fire that has been working its way across Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia has burned almost half of the area of the island, over 210,000 hectares (519,000 acres) or 48 percent. (See map of the fire above)

Below is an excerpt from a January 10 article at 9News:

Properties have been lost, firefighters injured and more land blackened after a night of horrific conditions across the Kangaroo Island bushfires, but the emergency has eased. Assessments are underway, but some homes are believed lost at Vivonne Bay while the town of Parndana was spared for a second time, despite fire bearing down on it from several directions. Both towns had been evacuated amid emergency warnings and the escalating danger.

Two Country Fire Service trucks were involved in burn-overs and two more CFS personnel were injured, taking the total hurt on Kangaroo Island to 22.

With rain falling across the fire ground on Friday, the warning levels for all fires were reduced first to a watch and act and then to a simple bushfire advice.

CFS chief officer Mark Jones said Thursday night was an “incredibly difficult” period for all 280 firefighters on the island.

“Winds were not consistent, they were blustery and came from many different directions,” he said.

The fire danger will increase on Monday as the forecast of Kingscote calls for winds out of the south at 8 to 16 mph. Those northerly winds will grow to 14 to 20 mph Tuesday through Thursday with very little chance of rain.

Much of the eastern third of the island consists of pastures or agriculture land without as many forested areas as found on the west end where Flinders Chase National Park is located. Most of the park has burned along with many structures in and near the park.

Two men were killed on January 4, Dick Lang and his son Clayton.

The State Government on Sunday reported that more than 32,000 livestock animals, mostly sheep, perished in the blazes as well as 830 hives and 115 nucleus hives.

The satellite photos below illustrate the eastward growth of the fire on Kangaroo Island over a five-day period.

Map Ravine Fire Kangaroo Island satellite photo
January 6, 2020 satellite photo showing the Ravine Fire on Kangaroo Island. The red areas represent heat. NASA.
Map Ravine Fire Kangaroo Island satellite photo
January 11, 2020 satellite photo showing the Ravine Fire on Kangaroo Island. The red areas represent heat. NASA.

Another area of Kangaroo Island evacuated prior to high bushfire danger

Fire has had major impacts on Kangaroo Island’s wildlife, killing thousands of koalas

Ravine Fire Kangaroo Island Australia
The gray area on the west side of Kangaroo Island has burned in the Ravine Fire. Copernicus image. January 8, 2020 local time.

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 red areas represent heat detected on the Ravine Fire on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island. January 8, 2020 local time.

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.

Bushfire burns large portion of Kangaroo Island south of Adelaide Australia

Officials say the only safe areas on the island are the Kingscote and Penneshaw communities

Ravine Fire Kangaroo Island map
Satellite photo from January 3, 2020 local time showing the Ravine Fire on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. The red dots represent heat. Later the wind shifted, blowing the smoke toward the northeast. NASA.

A very large bushfire has burned a considerable portion of the western half of Kangaroo Island south of Adelaide, South Australia. The police say the only safe places from the Ravine Fire are on the east end of the 88-mile long island in the Kingscote and Penneshaw communities.

The island is an 8-mile ferry ride away from the mainland south of Adelaide. The western third is forested and is the location of Flinders Chase National Park, much of which has burned in the fire. There are reports of significant damage to hotels and other facilities in and near the park.

Ravine Fire Kangaroo Island map
Kangaroo Island is at the lower left. Fires are indicated by the cross-hatched areas, but as of January 4 local time the areas shown as burned were not up to date.

Below is an excerpt from an article at The Islander:

The son of the owner of the cafe at the Flinders Chase National Park has posted this on social media: “For anyone wondering the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre and most surrounding buildings have been burnt down by the fire decimating the west end of the island. To my knowledge many families are now out of a steady income and will require as much assistance as possible, I’m sure the island will accommodate the needs of those suffering.

Ravine Fire Kangaroo Island
File photo of the Southern Ocean Lodge on the southwest coast of Kangaroo Island in South Australia. Southern Ocean Lodge photo.

A very high end resort on the southwest coast, the Southern Ocean Lodge, sustained damage from the fire after guests were evacuated from the rooms that cost over $1,000 a night. Six senior staff members remained on site to monitor the situation and activate the sprinkler system designed to protect the structures. Photos taken before the fire show brush growing very close to structures at the facility.

 Ravine Fire Kangaroo Island
File photo of the Southern Ocean Lodge on the southwest coast of Kangaroo Island in South Australia. Southern Ocean Lodge photo.

The lightning-caused fire is burning toward the town of Parndana in the center of Kangaroo Island, prompting officials to issue an evacuation order for the community.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is reporting that “up to 150,000 hectares” (370,000 acres) have burned in the fire. If accurate, that would be about half of the island.

On Friday a northwest wind was pushing the fire to the southeast, but by early Saturday (local time) a southwest wind was blowing the smoke over the mainland south of Adelaide. Relative humidity at Parndana is predicted to be 60 to 80 percent Saturday, which should slow the fire’s spread. In addition, much of the eastern half of the island is agricultural or ranch land with occasional stringers of trees, which would reduce fire’s resistance to control and the spotting potential.

Bomber 137, a Boeing 737 dropped Ravine Fire Kangaroo Island
Bomber 137, a Boeing 737, made several drops on the Ravine Fire January 3, 2020 reloading near Adelaide.

A 737 air tanker, Bomber 137, normally based this summer at Richmond, made several water or retardant drops on the fire Friday, reloading at RAAF Edinburgh near Adelaide.

Country Fire Service (CFS) deputy chief officer Andrew Stark said a decision will have to be made concerning the plans for cruise ships to arrive in the coming days, anchoring off the coast of Penneshaw on the east end of the island.