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Fires sweep through Australia’s Adelaide Hills

‘Catastrophic’ fires are sweeping through parts of South Australia, particularly Adelaide Hills and the Yorke Peninsula, with at least one winery’s vineyards believed to have been damaged.

Image: Golding Wines.

Australia has experienced its three hottest days on record this week. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the national average maximum temperature hit a record 40.7 degrees celsius on Tuesday 17 December, before rising to 41.9 degrees the following day. Yesterday, 19 December, a maximum temperature of 41 degrees was recorded.

According to reports, emergency warnings are in place for fires burning in the Adelaide Hills, on Kangaroo Island and on the Yorke Peninsular in South Australia.

The bureau has also warned of high winds, thunderstorms and hailstorms in the state, with the threat of lightning strikes of particular concern. Emergency services have been called to over 120 fires.

Among the wineries known to have been affected is Golding Wines on the outskirts of Lobethal.

In a statement published on social media, Lucy Golding, co-owner of the winery, said that the producer had faced its “worst nightmare”.

While all staff are safe, the winery’s Western Branch Vineyard has been “badly damaged” but its barn and tasting room as well as other outbuildings have remained intact.

Golding praised the work of fire crews in the area for helping to protect her winery.

“As always we are indebted to you for your bravery and efforts in trying to stop such a terrible fire and protect our property. The threat has not gone, Darren remains there dealing with spot fires and I know there are many others in the Hills fighting to protect their properties right now.

“Friends and neighbours are suffering losses. My heart aches for our Hills community on this blackest of days. We are down but not out. Please give us some time to process what has happened, catch our breath and work out what comes next. We will now be closed until after Christmas and all bookings over the weekend including our twilight session will be cancelled.”

Lofty Valley Wines, which says it has evaded the fires, has stated there are probably over 20 wineries affected. In a social media post, it names Golding, along with Petaluma and Bird in Hand as among those affected.

The statement read: “Being out of the fire zone we are simply lucky. Next time might be different. We send out thoughts to those impacted by fire and it seems Golding Wines Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard and Petaluma and Bird in Bird In Hand Winery to name 4 have had much drama or worse today. There are probably another 20.

“Golding Wines have said vine damage only but we await news from the others. Hoping and thanks to all the CFS crews approx 80 (including my son) and 11 planes apparently. The fire might not be out for quite a while and be pushed north to Harrogate and Mt Pleasant. Stay safe peeps.”

A state of emergency was also declared in New South Wales yesterday (19 December), while over 70 fires are burning in Queensland. Warnings have also been issued for some parts of Victoria, including Bamganie, Shelford, and Teesdale, which are west of Geelong.

It is believed around 700 homes have been destroyed in fires in Australia this year.

As fires intensified in New South Wales back in November, Angus Barnes, executive officer of the New South Wales Wine Industry Association, said he believed that wineries and vineyards in the state had escaped any direct damage. 

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