Hundreds shelter at Lucindale as fire bears down

The fire reached the township of Lucindale as can be seen by the blackened land near this welcome sign. Photo: ELISABETH CHAMPION
The fire reached the township of Lucindale as can be seen by the blackened land near this welcome sign. Photo: ELISABETH CHAMPION

Fire crews have worked through the night to control the Blackford fire, which threatened Lucindale where hundreds of residents sheltered in a hall.

The blaze, which burnt 14,000 hectares, started on Monday afternoon with hot, windy and dry conditions quickly sending it out of control towards Avenue and Lucindale.

Hundreds of Lucindale locals - and their pets - took refuge at the Lucindale Town Hall while the fire raged, right on their doorstep.

Lucindale local Leanne Graetz said this morning that the people of the town sheltered together, unsure of what was happening while the fire crews battled the blaze.

"The trucks went out and then the next thing we knew it was on the road which must join onto Blackfords Rd," she said.

"From then on, they were saying it had got going, it is coming Avenue way, it is coming Lucindale way, so we need to be aware of it.

"People got together, we talked together, from a LINC position, to the council to say the hall was the place to go and there was an announcement for people to go there and that was great, most people did do that, especially our elderly.

CFS crews came from around the region to help battle the blaze. PHOTO: Elisabeth Champion

CFS crews came from around the region to help battle the blaze. PHOTO: Elisabeth Champion

"The Country Fire Service knew that. Some people were still in their properties, but most people in town went into the hall.

"Everyone stayed there and then the Field Days site was opened, so they were making sandwiches and the women who had come in from Avenue went there so they could keep busy since they had to be evacuated from their homes.

"We didn't know what was really going on. We just knew that was a safe place. The trucks were going everywhere and they would keep us safe.

"The CFS did a marvellous job and they kept this town safe as much as they could. They did a great job."

Power and phone services were down, but crews are working to restore them.

Smoke rises from burnt property at Lucindale. PHOTO: Elisabeth Champion

Smoke rises from burnt property at Lucindale. PHOTO: Elisabeth Champion

POLICE PROBE CAUSE OF FIRE

Police are investigating the cause of the grassfire.

Just after 12.30pm on Monday, police and CFS crews were called to Avenue Range after reports of a an out-of-control grassfire which spread easterly towards Lucindale.

The fire was brought under control about 10pm after the efforts by CFS crews along with favourable weather conditions.

Fire-fighters remain in the area in case of any flare-ups.

Road have been closed. For updates please refer to www.traffic.sa.gov.au If you are driving through this area you should slow down and be aware of fallen trees, injured or deceased livestock and wildlife that may be on the roads.

Sheep in a burnt paddock at Lucindale, black from the smoke. PHOTO: Elisabeth Champion

Sheep in a burnt paddock at Lucindale, black from the smoke. PHOTO: Elisabeth Champion

OVER 14,000 HECTARES LOST

SA Country Fire Service is currently in attendance at the fire. The fire currently has an Advice message active and, although the fire conditions have slowed, the fire is not yet contained.

The fire has burnt over 14,073 ha of grass with significant losses to fencing and livestock.

The fire has impacted the communities of Avenue Range, Blackford and Lucindale with at least three structures confirmed lost or substantially damaged.

Rapid Damage Assessment teams will be in the Blackford and Avenue Range and Lucindale areas checking structures in the fire affected areas.

A fence post continues to smoulder in the aftermath of the Blackford fire. PHOTO: Elisabeth Champion

A fence post continues to smoulder in the aftermath of the Blackford fire. PHOTO: Elisabeth Champion

CFS and Department of Environment and Water (DEW) have 40 fire trucks and 200 firefighters, supported by farm fire units, currently on the fire ground.

The Victorian Country Fire Authority has sent resources to assist, including 4 fire trucks and a command vehicle.

One Forty One Plantations is assisting with 2 fire trucks and 2 water tankers.

CFS fire bombers completed a total of 101 air drops yesterday in support of the firefighters. Aircraft have recommenced flying today to provide information and help stop any outbreaks.

Department of Primary Industry SA teams are on fire ground this morning assessing stock losses and helping locals with injured stock.

Electranet and SAPN are inspecting and repairing electrical infrastructure including one of the interstate interconnectors. Please stay well away from any down power lines until Electranet and SAPN have completed repairs.

Fire crews work to extinguish the Blackford fire at Lucindale. Photo: ELISABETH CHAMPION

Fire crews work to extinguish the Blackford fire at Lucindale. Photo: ELISABETH CHAMPION

The South East drainage board have people inspecting the drains, bridges and crossings within the fire area.

SAPOL have roads closed in the area, please refer to the traffic.sa.gov.au for updates as these are changing with conditions.

Currently the Avenue Range Road is closed between the Princes Hwy and Lucindale. The Minnie Crowe Road is closed south of Old Coach Road and the Crower Road is closed between Konetta Road and Avenue to the general public. If you are driving through this area you should slow down and be aware of fallen trees, injured or deceased livestock and wildlife that may be on the roads.

If the general public see any outbreaks they should immediately contact 000.

A Naracoorte bulk water carrier stands by on Tuesday. Photo: ELISABETH CHAMPION

A Naracoorte bulk water carrier stands by on Tuesday. Photo: ELISABETH CHAMPION