How to navigate the forests in South Australia’s bushfire-ravaged forest
Posted On July 12, 2021
The forest is a thicket of brush and scrub and, in some places, there is a few patches of redwood.
“There’s a lot of bushfire activity, but you don’t have to be scared of fire to live here,” said Sarah Gulland, who is a bushfire specialist for the state’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
“It’s just a lot more beautiful and safe.”
The state is home to some of the worst bushfire in South Australian history, which has killed more than 3,500 people and destroyed about 1,500 hectares (3,000 acres) of forest.
The fires, which have raged since late March, have ravaged the state for weeks.
More than 6,000 hectares (16,000 square kilometres) of the state has been destroyed, and the number of fires continues to rise.
More than 30,000 homes are under mandatory evacuation orders and many more people have been forced to seek shelter in neighbouring state towns.
The fires are now spreading across the state, from the north, to the south and south-west, with the blaze-prone South Australian Forest Reserve (SAFR) region, home to the state capital Adelaide, in the centre of the spread.
The state’s state disaster plan says that there is still a risk of bushfires in SAFR.
“However, with continued positive progress in managing the fires, and with the increased threat of severe weather, SAFR should be no longer a risk for the next few weeks,” the document states.
The South Australian Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has also warned that the bushfires could trigger a second major bushfire season in the region, with more than a dozen fires still burning across the SAFR region.
Firefighters have been battling the fires for more than two weeks, with some of them being forced to close roads and move people away from vulnerable areas.
The SAFR is now a no-go zone for some, and is being closed to the public, with residents being asked to stay at home and avoid public gatherings.
The region is home the majority of SA’s native bushfire trees, and a large part of the SA Fire Service’s operations in the area.
However, some residents have told Al Jazeera that they feel unsafe in the bushfire area.
“I’m not a bush fire specialist, I’m not an expert on fire, I don’t know what to do,” said Sydney resident John Thomas, who was evacuated from his home in the SA Forest Reserve last week.
“I live in a small town and my neighbours are in the Forest Reserve too, and they have their own homes.”
While the fire situation in SA is a crisis, there are some areas that have remained largely unaffected by the bush fires.
“There’s no fires burning here.
There are lots of other places that have been really good, and some of those places are really safe,” said Victoria resident Rachel Williams.
She said that she felt safe in the city of Adelaide, where she lived for a long time, and that she and her family had a good relationship.
However the state is now on the verge of having to take some drastic measures.
“If the fires continue to escalate and we are going to have to put some restrictions on people, I think that’s the only thing we can do,” Ms Williams said.
“But we need to know that we’re going to be safe.
That’s the first priority.”