Death toll rises to at least 9 as Australian wildfires rage across three states

By Sommer Brokaw
Residents put out spot fires on Station Road in Woodside in the Adelaide Hills in Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, Friday. Photo by Kelly Barnes/EPA-EFE
Residents put out spot fires on Station Road in Woodside in the Adelaide Hills in Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, Friday. Photo by Kelly Barnes/EPA-EFE

Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The death toll has risen to at least nine people as wildfires rage in Australia across three states.

Since September, fires have scorched millions of acres with at least nine people killed, and hundreds of homes destroyed, the BBC reported.


South Australia Premier Steven Marshall confirmed another death in his state in a news conference.

Marshall said another person died in a fire in the Adelaide Hills Friday that also seriously injured another, along with death of a 24 year-old from Queensland in a car crash in Lameroo linked to a fire in the Murraylands.

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There were 500 firefighters fighting to contain the fires, Marshall said, especially the major fire at Cudlee Creek in the Adelaide Hills and a fire on Kangaroo Island. The Cudlee Creek fire was downgraded to watch and act level Friday evening and the one on Kangaroo Island, was still under emergency warning.

"Hundreds of firefighters are currently out in sweltering heat battling blazes across South Australia," Marshall tweeted. "Everything is being done to bring these fires under control."

More than 98,000 acres burned across the state and three trucks, 15 homes, 28 buildings and 16 vehicles were destroyed, Marshall said.


Twenty-three firefighters were injured with one in serious condition in the hospital, South Australian Country Fire Service Chief Officer Mark Jones said.

Along with South Australia, wildfires have also recently raged across two other states, New South Wales and Victoria, aggravated by Australia recording its hottest day in history Tuesday.

Two Australian volunteer firefighters were killed while on duty with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service Thursday night.

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Four NSW firefighters were treated for burns and smoke inhalation, ABC reported.

"We have seen property impacted and lost," the NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told a press conference Saturday. "We have 3,000 firefighters and emergency services personnel out there dealing with the fires, a bad weather day."

In Victoria, the Marthavale fire in East Gippsland region quadrupled overnight in size. Emergency warnings were in place for residents of small towns with Stirling, Holstons, Tambo Crossing and Wattle Circle, being among them.

Michael McCormack, Australia's acting prime minister, said the country needed to do more to combat climate change, but said there was also "a lot of hysteria," about the issue, and there were other causes of the fires.

"Climate change is not the only factor that has caused these fires," McCormack said. "There has been dry lightning strikes, there has been self-combusting piles of manure, there has been a lot of arsonists out there causing fire."


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