'Wasn’t even a hot day': Fire tornado forms as residents flee Kangaroo Island

Dramatic footage has captured a terrifying fire tornado swirling into a mammoth tunnel of thick smoke and angry flames on Kangaroo Island.

A resident captured the incredible event on camera as he stood nearby with his ute and watched as crews battled with a “virtually unstoppable” bushfire tearing through the island, off the mainland of South Australia.

“Here’s another fire twister on Kangaroo Island this afternoon. We had a fair few of them today and it wasn’t even a hot day,” the man wrote in his post to Facebook on Thursday.

Fire tornado emerges out of the ground on Kangaroo Island.
The fire tornado shown ripping out of the ground in angry flames and smoke. Source: Facebook

The blaze near the Ravine Des Casoars wilderness protection area jumped containment lines on Friday and was declared an immediate threat to lives and homes in the area.

By mid-afternoon, it had burnt through 14,000 hectares as it spread into the Flinders Chase National Park and continued to resist efforts by about 150 firefighters to bring it under control.

Locals and tourists had been urged to leave the area, with a luxury resort also evacuated, apart from a skeleton staff.

Unable to stop it spreading

The Country Fire Service said the blaze was now burning in all directions through the Flinders Chase National Park, with conditions continually changing.

Country Fire Service chief officer Mark Jones said it was disappointing that some residents had not heeded warnings and had chosen to stay.

Now it might be too late and they should seek shelter, he said.

Mr Jones said there were no confirmed reports yet of property losses or any injuries, but he said he would be "astonished" if homes had not been destroyed.

A forecast wind shift later on Friday was expected to push the fire to the east and north, effectively creating a danger zone covering the entire western part of the island.

"The resources that are on the ground are having a good impact," Mr Jones said.

"But the conditions and the severity of the fire means that it's virtually unstoppable at the current time.

"The visibility is extremely poor, even for our aerial bombers, it's difficult for them to see the fire line where they wish to make the drop."

Bushfire on Kangaroo Island where a fire tornado opened up on Thursday.
The resident said the tornado was one of multiple on Kangaroo Island. Source: Facebook

Mr Jones said another fire burning at Duncan on Kangaroo Island also breached containment lines but had since been brought back under greater control.

The escalating danger on the island came as SA endured a day of severe to extreme fire conditions, with very high temperatures and rising winds across the state.

An emergency relief centre has been established at Kingscote, on the Island's east coast.

CFS crews are also continuing to monitor a number of existing fires on the SA mainland, including the blaze in the Adelaide Hills which has destroyed more than 25,000 hectares.

It broke out amid catastrophic conditions two weeks ago and destroyed more than 80 homes but is now considered contained.

With AAP

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