Firefighters were battling a blaze in steep terrain in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia on Saturday that threatened the small town of Montacute.
About 59 firetrucks were on the ground by Saturday afternoon, with six firebombers and other spotter aircraft trying to control the fire.
The blaze, visible from the Adelaide suburbs, was reported to have grown rapidly from just five to 20 hectares in about 10 minutes.
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Pictures and footage shared on social media showed aircraft darting through thick black smoke to try to contain the fire, first reported at 11.30am.
At 1.38pm on Saturday, the South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) issued a request for people in Montacute and the surrounding area near Athelstone in the Mount Lofty Ranges to leave the area.
The warning for people in Montacute said: “Conditions are dangerous and firefighters are now unable to prevent the fire spreading. Shelter before the fire arrives as heat can kill you well before the flames reach you.”
The CFS said the fire was burning freely in “steep inaccessible terrain” inside the nearby Black Hill conservation park.
A CFS spokesperson told the Guardian on Saturday afternoon the official warning had been downgraded to “watch and act” as there were no immediate risks to buildings.
She said: “There are no assets in direct danger. But we will be working on this fire overnight. It is not contained and is still going.
“We have 59 appliances [firetrucks] there, but it is inaccessible on foot so we have the six bombers out and more air support that is giving us a massive advantage.”
The fire was covering 45 hectares, but a wind change expected in the late afternoon might see the fire blow back onto itself.
According to the 2021 census, Montacute has 332 residents. Police and the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service were also on the scene. Two local roads were closed.
On Friday, the CFS issued a total fire ban for Saturday for several areas in South Australia, including the Mount Lofty Ranges, saying the weather conditions meant the risk of fire was extreme.
Observations from Bureau of Meteorology weather stations showed temperatures reaching 33C at Mount Lofty on Saturday afternoon, with winds gusting to 39km/h.