Autumn 2015

Prescribed burning recommenced last week for the 2014/15 season.  One 600 ha prescribed burn in Pinkawillinie CP in the Eyre region was completed, as well as an 11 ha restoration burn at Cromer CP in the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges.  Subject to suitable seasonal conditions the Autumn program is planned to be completed in May.

The prescribed burning program was developed by public land managers in consultation with CFS.   The program identifies a total of 41 burns treating an area of 1262 hectares on DEWNR, SA Water and ForestrySA land.  For a list of the planned prescribed burns for Autumn click here.

Sampson Flat bushfire

The largest bushfire to sweep through the Adelaide Hills in more than 30 years began on Friday 2 January north-west of Kersbrook at around midday.

Although the fire seemed contained within hours of starting, strong gully winds caused the fire to spot and expand in all directions, with new fires spotting through Friday night and Saturday morning. 

This animated GIF shows the fire spread from the 2nd to the 4th of January. The fire spread from Humbug Scrub to Cudlee Creek, Inglewood to Gumeracha, and on the morning of Saturday the 3rd, the fire was declared an emergency under the Emergency Management Act.

The DEWNR Brigade was called on by the CFS to help manage the fire, both as strike teams directly fighting the fire, and in crucial support roles including incident controllers, planning officers, GIS mapping specialists and fire behaviour analysts.

Responding to the CFS Chain of Command, frontline staff were located near the northern fire boundary. Because DEWNR’s fire-fighting equipment and training is specifically designed for fire management in native vegetation and remote areas, the team was well prepared to manage the fire near and within the Para Wirra Conservation Park.

High temperatures, low humidity, strong winds with a number of changes in direction, and the fire taking hold in the largest intact area of native vegetation in the Mount Lofty Ranges, all played a part in making the Sampson Flat bushfire dangerous and difficult to contain.

Both Para Wirra Recreation Park and Cudlee Creek Conservation Park were affected by the fires. Access issues made it difficult to confirm, but prescribed burns to the north near Para Wirra and to the south in the Cudlee Creek/Millbrook areas are believed to have helped reduced the spread and intensity of the fire near Para Wirra Recreation Park and protected vital infrastructure at Millbrook Reservoir.

By late Wednesday, 7 January, after almost a week of CFS, DEWNR, CFA, RFS, Forestry SA and SA Water fire teams working together to control the blaze, rains helped to stabilise the fire-ground.

During the first week of January, DEWNR’s fire brigade not only responded to the Sampson Flat fire, but also a major fire at Tantanoola and a number of fires caused by lightning, extending from Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island to the South East.


  • Total area burnt: 12,569 ha.  DEWNR = 215 ha; FSA = 3,189 ha (760 ha plantation); SAW = 487 ha; Private = 7,812 ha; Other = 867 ha.
  • Total perimeter: 222 km
  • Houses destroyed: 27
  • Sheds/outbuildings destroyed: 142
  • Businesses destroyed: 5
  • SAW Treatment Plant Irrigations System destroyed: 1
  • 1983 the last significant fire to sweep through the Adelaide Hills
  • 600 fire crew and 115 appliances on the ground at the height of the fire
  • 600 letters sent to licensees regarding water entitlements following the fire
  • 374 firefighters in DEWNR’s fire brigade, including 82 seasonal firefighters
  • 174 operational support staff in DEWNR’s brigade
  • 150+ members of DEWNR’s brigade involved in fighting the fire
  • 15 of parks closed, with all but Cudlee Creek now reopen
  • 7 teams and fire-bombing aircraft from NSW and Victoria joined the fight
  • 0 lives lost


The DEWNR brigade’s main role is fire prevention across the land it manages. This is done through activities such as prescribed burns, which aim to reduce the impact of bushfires on communities.

It is also the largest brigade within the CFS and, when requested, responds to bushfires under the CFS Chain of Command. Staff fill many specialist roles, including incident controllers, air observations, remote area firefighters and mapping support.

The CFS is the lead authority during a bushfire in South Australia and may request the MFS and SES to provide support under their direction. The SES may provide resources through activities such as traffic management and logistical support.

The recovery

DEWNR has an important role in helping the local community and environment recover from the effects of the fire.

Staff have already been involved in the Rapid Damage Assessment Team, assessing affected properties and infrastructure, and providing support to DPTI road crews in opening roads to the public.

A specialist Bushfire Rapid Risk Assessment Team from Victoria with recent experience in recovery following bushfires assessed environmental impacts. DEWNR will continue assess the fire’s impact on soil erosion, threatened species, water runoff and water quality. This information will be used by all government agencies in recovery planning.

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges is working closely with landholders to help manage issues such as soil erosion, revegetation and weed management.


Prescribed burns

Stay informed about prescribed burns on the Fire Management website.


For more info or feedback contact us at:


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