Firefighters are battling an uncontrolled bushfire raging in the Adelaide Hills with warnings urging residents they are in danger, to take shelter and not attempt to leave the area.
At midnight, a Watch and Act message remained current with South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) working throughout the evening to contain the fire, near Cherry Gardens, about 25km away from Adelaide.
Temperatures overnight will see crews continue to work in hot conditions and in difficult terrain.
More than 300 firefighters will remain on scene overnight continuing to supress areas of the fire before temperatures increase in the morning including a swathe of support by personnel from SA Police, SA Ambulance Service and the State Emergency Service.
Currently the fire is travelling in a North Easterly direction but an early morning wind change will see the fire direction change and again head south westerly.
“Aviation resources” will be join to battle the fire in the morning supporting crews on the ground and gathering aerial intelligence.
It comes as SA Police arrested a man after he was caught leaving the scene of a fire at Clarendon, a small town in the Adelaide Hills.
“Police will allege a patrol spotted a vehicle speeding away from a fire that had recently started on Piggott Range Road just after 6pm on Sunday 24 January”, a statement read.
“Detectives are investigating if there are any possible links between this fire and others in the area.”
The CFS warned residents to remain vigilant: “Whilst overnight there may appear to be a reduction in the smoke from these fires areas that are continuing to burn will be extremely visible in the surrounding areas, the community are asked to remain vigilant as the situation is continually changing.”
Residents have been warned of large amounts of widespread smoke from across the fireground on Monday morning, and advised “all windows and doors remain closed” and “take care if needing to drive in areas where there is smoke present due to reduced visibility”.
An alert on Sunday evening at 11.30pm warned residents in Clarendon, Cherry Gardens, Bradbury, Kangarilla and Echunga in the Mount Lofty Ranges to “take action now”.
“Take action now as this bushfire may threaten your safety. If you are not prepared, leave now and if the path is clear, go to a safer place. Do not enter this area as conditions are dangerous.”
At 11.30pm the scrub fire was burning in a north easterly direction towards Heathfield, Upper Sturt, Aldgate, Bridgewater, Longwood and Mylor.
The blaze had been unpredictable overnight with firefighters warning conditions were “continually changing”.
An alert earlier in the evening had warned residents: “You are now in danger. Take shelter in a solid building. Do not leave or enter this area in a vehicle or on foot. It is too late to leave as the roads will not be safe.”
The fire started near Cherry Gardens just after 4’o clock Sunday afternoon.
“Conditions are dangerous and firefighters are now unable to prevent the fire spreading. Shelter before the fire arrives as heat can kill you well before the flames reach you,” the South Australian Country Fire Service said.
7 News Adelaide weather presenter Amelia Mulchay observed the fire was powerful it generated its own pyrocumulus cloud.
She warned pyrocumulus clouds “can create their own weather within a fireground and can make conditions less predictable”.
Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior forecaster Chris Kent told the ABC that pyrocumulus clouds “were formed by a rising column of hot air coming off fires”.
During an update on ABC Adelaide, CFS controller Yvette Dowling said seven fires had merged into one, creating dangerous conditions.
Ms Dowling said there were multiple road closures being put in place and driving near the fire would become increasingly hazardous as conditions worsened.
“If you can stay off the road, we would highly encourage that,” she said.
The blaze was burning under “extreme weather conditions” earlier Sunday as temperatures in the state’s capital hit above 40 in the afternoon. Temperatures were still in the 30s past 9pm.
Winds were expected to change direction with the blaze expected to head towards Kangarilla, Scott Creek, Longwood, Mount Bold, Mylor and Heathfield, CFS state deputy commander Yvette Dowling said.