Names of pair killed in KI bushfire catastrophe revealed

Acclaimed Australian bush pilot Dick Lang, and his son Clayton, have been killed in the catastrophic bushfire that scorched more than 150,000 hectares on Kangaroo Island.

The Advertiser has been told prominent Adelaide tourism operator Dick, and his son died in the inferno.

SA Police Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams confirmed two deaths during a media conference in Adelaide on Saturday morning.

Dick Lang and his son Dr Clayton Lang have died in the Kangaroo Island bushfires.
Dick Lang and his son Dr Clayton Lang have died in the Kangaroo Island bushfires. Supplied

"Regrettably, we can confirm that two people are deceased in the fire," Ms Williams said.

A CFS crew discovered the body of one person in a burnt-out car on the Playford Highway at Gosse, and a second body was also found nearby.

"I don't want to make assumptions but I would say it's linked to a vehicle that was discovered near Parndana."

Premier Steven Marshall described the deaths as a tragedy.

"Our hearts go out to the family of those affected," he said.

Mr Marshall said the fire had destroyed the majority of the Flinders Chase National Park in the southwest of the island - Australia's third-largest.

"The fires that occurred (on Friday) were significantly worse than in 2007 in Flinders Chase because it took out all of the building infrastructure within this national park," he said.

Two dead, national park destroyed in KI catastrophe

Two people have died in a "virtually unstoppable" bushfire that has scorched more than 150,000ha of Kangaroo Island.

SA Police Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams confirmed the deaths during a media conference on Saturday morning.

"Regrettably, we can confirm that two people are deceased in the fire," Ms Williams said.

Police are working to identify next of kin as forensic investigators head to the scene.

"I don't want to make assumptions but I would say it's linked to a vehicle that was discovered near Parndana."

Premier Steven Marshall described the deaths as a tragedy.

"Our hearts go out to the family of those affected," he said.

Mr Marshall said the fire had destroyed the majority of Flinders Chase National Park in the southwest of Kangaroo Island.

"The fires that occurred (on Friday) were significantly worse than in 2007 in Flinders Chase because it took out all of the building infrastructure within this national park," he said.

The bushfire warnings for Kangaroo Island as of 7.30am.
The bushfire warnings for Kangaroo Island as of 7.30am.

Mr Marshall said about 250 people were based at a recovery centre in Kingscote, where plans were being developed to help them leave the island.

He said there would be significant livestock and wildlife losses on the island, where about 500 CFS, MFS and Environment Department firefighters with help from farm fighting units were battling the blazes.

"Although the people there are very capable dealing with fires, they are very tired at the moment having battled fires on Kangaroo Island for two weeks," Mr Marshall said.

"It's clear that South Australia has had an extraordinarily difficult time since December 20 and there has been extensive damage right across our state."

Country Fire Service chief officer Mark Jones said the blazes had "great abated" since Friday but still continued to burn out of control.

"We are very grateful to those people on the island who heeded our warnings (on Friday) and the day before and got themselves out of harm's way," Mr Jones said.

"The weather (on Saturday) should give our crews the opportunity to start to get on top although we expect that the fires will burn for some days."

The Southern Ocean Lodge has been completely destroyed. Picture: 7 News
The Southern Ocean Lodge has been completely destroyed. Picture: 7 News

Early on Saturday morning, the CFS downgraded the Emergency Warning across the western side of the island to a Watch and Act - but urged locals to remain vigilant as the fire continues to be beyond their control.

Areas including Flinders Chase, Vivonne Bay, Hansen Bay, Kelly Hill, Western River and Stokes Bay towards Parndana in the central area, Stokes Bay in the north and Seal Bay in the south continue to be affected.

Meanwhile a Bushfire Advice Message remains in effect on the eastern side of the island for areas including Kingscote, Penneshaw, Emu Bay and American River.

About 170 firefighters and personnel are expected to fly into the island on Saturday to join the 350-strong crew on the ground.

FOR LATEST ALERTS OVERNIGHT VIST THE CFS WEBSITE HERE

Earlier on Friday, crews unsuccessfully battled to save the luxury Southern Ocean Lodge, where six senior staff sheltered in an emergency bunker after the resort was evacuated.

The resort's owner, Baillie Lodges, reported the luxury accommodation had sustained significant damage from the bushfire and would be closed for the foreseeable future.

Baillie Lodges founders and co-creators of Southern Ocean Lodge James and Hayley Baillie said initial plans were already at hand to rebuild.

"We are absolutely shocked and saddened by today's events," Mr and Mrs Baillie said.

"A bushfire incident such as this is really our worst nightmare come true."

The Flinders Chase Visitor Centre was also reportedly destroyed.

The road closures across Kangaroo Island as of 3am on Saturday.
The road closures across Kangaroo Island as of 3am on Saturday.

Residents on Kangaroo Island have been asked to limit their non-essential water consumption after the bushfires impacted the Middle River Water Treatment Plant.

The damage to the facility has directly affected Kingscote, Parndana and surrounding areas.

SA Water crews will visit the plant as soon as it is safe to do so and begin assessing the damage.

While the Penneshaw Desalination Plant and supply network is operating normally, residents in those areas are asked to curb their water usage in case it is required to supplement Kingscote.

An unexpectedly strong change brought wind gusts reaching 55km/h around 8pm on Friday and pushed the blaze eastwards.

At least 100,000ha of land - or a quarter of the island - is estimated to have been affected by the fire but the extent of the damage remains unknown.

Aircraft are set to assess the island on Saturday morning.

About 2.5mm rain fell about 4am on Saturday, bringing much needed relief, with 2-5mm showers expected for the rest of the day.

The townships of Kingscote and Penneshaw are considered areas of safety and a 24-hour relief centre has been established at the Kingscote Football Club.

Extensive road closures are in place to allow crews to move across the fireground and to ensure safety of the public. People are asked to avoid these areas as a significant threat remains across the fireground.

For information on road closures visit www.traffic.sa.gov.au.

Aerial photo of the fire at Ravine on Kangaroo Island. Picture CFS
Aerial photo of the fire at Ravine on Kangaroo Island. Picture CFS

Meanwhile, ferry operator SeaLink has urged the public to defer all non-essential travel.

Two vessels will continue to operate - with a total of 12 return trips on Saturday, but priority will be given to emergency services vehicles and personnel.

All passenger tickets to leave Kangaroo Island on Saturday have sold out.

SeaLink managing director Jeff Ellison told ABC Radio Adelaide there was "no problem with passenger space" but those with vehicles would have to wait until Sunday morning to leave the island.

The company said up to 300 people and 80 vehicles at the Kingscote relief centre require immediate passage to the mainland.

Aerial photos of the fire at Ravine on Kangaroo Iasland. Picture CFS
Aerial photos of the fire at Ravine on Kangaroo Iasland. Picture CFS

Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary between Flinders Chase and Kelly Hill national parks, which also provides cabin accommodation, was also hit by Friday's bushfire.

The owner said many buildings were lost but it was too early to know the exact details.

All guests and most staff were evacuated early Friday while the sanctuary was shut to all visitors.

The sanctuary and the cabins will be closed until further notice.

On Friday, as conditions deteriorated further the fire danger area was expanded to cover the entire island.

The town of Parndana was evacuated with police declaring the major towns of Kingscote and Penneshaw as the only safe places on the island.

SA Power Networks advised the western part of the island would face extended outage as repair crews cannot enter the firegrounds until it was safe to do so.

Aerial photo of Ravine fire on Kangaroo Island. Picture: CFS
Aerial photo of Ravine fire on Kangaroo Island. Picture: CFS

Country Fire Service chief officer Mark Jones said that he would be "astounded" if there were not homes lost in the fire.

There was an emergency warning message in place for the Ravine fire which has forced the evacuation of holiday parks and visitor centres.

The Ravine fire is predicted to burn for several days.

A second fire burning in Duncan in the centre of the island broke containment after 50km/h winds buffeted the fire ground.

The fire threatened the township of Parndana as well as rural properties. Resources were relocated from the Ravine fire to contain the fire.

The Ravine fire has burned through more than 10,000ha on Kangaroo Iasland. Picture: CFS
The Ravine fire has burned through more than 10,000ha on Kangaroo Iasland. Picture: CFS

"Bushfire index predictions have greatly exceeded those predicted for today," Mr Jones said.

"These conditions caused the Duncan fire to break containment and head easterly direction, thankfully aerial bombardment and hard work from our fire fighters on the ground have got that fire contained.

"We will get as many resources over there as we can bearing in mind we have several other fires burning.

"It is pleasing that resources on the ground are having a good impact but the conditions as well as the severity and size of the fire means that the fire is virtually unstoppable at the current time."

Smoke from the Kangaroo Island fires and windy and dusty conditions in the state's Far North will likely bring reduced air quality in part off South Australia on Saturday, SA Health warns.

The bushfire burning in Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island. Picture: 7NEWS Adelaide
The bushfire burning in Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island. Picture: 7NEWS Adelaide

Mr Jones said 412 CFS personnel were in the field battling 25 fires across the state.

Meanwhile, CFS units have been tackling a hay fire south of Mount Torrens, after strong winds caused a flare-up of the Cudlee Creek fire.

The fire on Onkaparinga Valley Rd is causing large amounts of smoke to be visible over the area.

CFS volunteers tackle the fire in reached hay bales on a property at Mount Torrens in the Adelaide Hills. Picture: AAP / Kelly Barnes
CFS volunteers tackle the fire in reached hay bales on a property at Mount Torrens in the Adelaide Hills. Picture: AAP / Kelly Barnes


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