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.