South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has decided not to leave on a planned overseas holiday as major bushfires continue to burn across the state.
Marshall said he would remain in Adelaide while the State Emergency Centre, which was established to coordinate efforts to fight the fires, remained active.
“My focus at the moment is not on my Christmas holidays,” he said. “It’s trying to make sure we get through this difficult period.”
The premier had been scheduled to leave this week for a holiday in New Zealand. Instead, he provided updates on the bushfires on Saturday after briefings from emergency service chiefs.
He says a person died in the Charleston area of the Adelaide Hills where the most significant fire continues to burn.
This follows the death of a man in a road crash at Lameroo, which sparked a fire there while noted SA horse trainer John Glatz is in the Royal Adelaide Hospital with significant burns suffered while trying to protect his Adelaide Hills property at Woodside.
The fire in the hills and one on Kangaroo Island continue to burn out of control with watch and act messages in place. Fire crews and water bombers continue working to protect assets and establish control lines. They believe both fires will continue to burn for several days.
The premier confirmed 15 homes had been destroyed in the SA fires which were sparked in catastrophic conditions on Friday. As well as the 15 homes destroyed across SA, 28 other buildings have also been lost along with 16 cars.
“My fear is this is only the tip of the iceberg. We haven’t had a chance to get back in to assess the damage,” Marshall said. “We know that in addition to the buildings and vehicles lost there are very significant losses in terms of livestock, animals, crops, vineyards.
“It is going to be a real scene of devastation, especially for those people in the Adelaide Hills who have been most affected.”
Authorities have also confirmed that 23 firefighters and several police officers have suffered injuries, including one firefighter who remains in hospital in a serious condition. Three Country Fire Service trucks were also destroyed.
Police have confirmed they are currently checking on the welfare of 90 to 100 people across the various fire grounds.
On Friday, more than 100 fires broke out before midday and have since destroyed about 40,000 hectares.