Firefighters across the Adelaide Hills in South Australia will use Christmas Day to try to bring a devastating bushfire under control.
Slightly milder conditions on Wednesday and on Boxing Day will give the Country Fire Service some chance of bringing the 25,000-hectare blaze fully to heel ahead of the looming deterioration in conditions.
A return to very hot weather with the mercury topping 40C has been forecast for the weekend, together with rising winds, that will have authorities on edge.
CFS Chief Officer Mark Jones said as the work continued to bring the fire under control, he was inspired by the efforts of his volunteers.
“You selflessly give your time, time away from your family, and you endure financial losses to put yourself in harm’s way to protect the community,” he said.
Jones said about 200 firefighters would remain on the ground in the Hills on Wednesday and all those at home would be ready to spring into action.
“Fires don’t discriminate whether it’s Christmas Day or not and our firefighters don’t discriminate either,” he said.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison toured areas hard hit by the fire, visiting the Lobethal emergency relief centre, a CFS brigade at Woodside and a local winery, which lost its 10-hectare vineyard.
He said in almost every case, the people devastated by the fire had worked so incredibly hard to build up what was there.
“They’re very determined people and my encouragement to them today is to access the help that is available,” he said.
“No one is invincible. No one can carry all of this on their own.”
Morrison also paid tribute the firefighters on duty across the Hills and those battling other fires around SA and across the country.
“Today may be Christmas Eve but for so many firefighters, it’s going to be another day out there protecting their communities,” he said.
“I thank them for their service and thank all those supporting them to keep them out there.
“And I thank their families.”
A watch and act warning remains in place for the Adelaide Hills fire, which has destroyed 84 homes and hundreds of other buildings as well as claiming one life.