Australia

Bushfires in South Australia 'destroy dozens of homes'

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Media captionJon Donnison reports on the fires destroying parts of the Adelaide Hills

More than 30 homes are feared destroyed in South Australia as crews continue to battle out-of-control bushfires.

More than 800 firefighters are tackling the blazes, which have been burning for several days in the hills around the city of Adelaide.

Officials say the fires are the worst in the area since the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983, which left 75 dead.

Cooler weather may help firefighters tame the flames, which have been fanned by high winds and temperatures.

But South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said the situation remained critical.

"We're by no means through this particular emergency," he said.

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Media captionMatt Taylor has the latest on the weather conditions

"Homes are being threatened, there are people in the path of this fire front at the moment. It's a very serious situation."

He said 12 homes had been confirmed destroyed in the Adelaide Hills with another 20 also feared lost.

Twenty-two people, mostly firefighters, are said to have suffered minor injuries.

More than 11,000 hectares (27,200 acres) of land has been burned, according to reports.

People are being encouraged not to take any risks, and leave if their houses are in danger.

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Image caption The fires are threatening rural communities east of Adelaide
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Dozens of properties are feared destroyed
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dozens of dogs and cats were killed after fire destroyed a kennel and cattery

"Right at this moment, residents in the Adelaide Hills are being confronted by a fire which hasn't been seen in the hills since the 1983 bushfires of Ash Wednesday," South Australia fire chief Greg Nettleton said on Saturday.

The 1983 fires left 75 people dead and caused devastation across parts of Victoria and South Australia.

Australia faces such fires every year but environmentalists say global warning is making their occurrence more frequent.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology says the country experienced its hottest year on record in 2013.

In 2009, the devastating "Black Saturday" wildfires killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria.

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