Well-known father and son identified as two killed in Kangaroo Island bushfires

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

The two people killed in bushfires on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island have been identified as a well-known bush pilot and his plastic surgeon son.

Dick Lang, 78, and his son Clayton Lang, 43, were caught by a ravaging fire that ripped through the island on Friday, destroying more than 150,000 hectares.

CFS chief officer Mark Jones even described the bushfire as "virtually unstoppable" under the prevailing conditions.

The father and son’s burnt out car was found on the Playford Highway at Gosse on Saturday.

A body was discovered inside the vehicle while another was found nearby.

Dick Lang was a leading bush pilot and also ran 4WD tours. Source: Dick Lang's Adventures

The family released a statement on Saturday evening, revealing their despair over their deaths.

“We are devastated to have lost two beloved members of our family – Dick Lang and his youngest son Clayton Lang – in such terrible circumstances,” the statement said.

“Dick and Clayton were in the process of returning to the family property on Kangaroo Island after fighting a nearby fire for two days.

Clayton Lang was a leading surgeon in South Australia. Source: Nine News

“Dick and Clayton were prominent members of the South Australian community who rose to the top in their chosen professions.”

The family said the grandfather was fondly known as ‘Desert Dick’ and had been a “pioneering” bush pilot offering endless tours of Australia and abroad.

“He loved the bush, he loved adventure and he loved Kangaroo Island,” the family added.

His youngest son Clayton was one of Adelaide’s leading plastic surgeons specialising in hand surgery.

Dick, who was married to wife Helen for 55 years, has four sons and seven grandchildren.

“Helen and the family are heartbroken and reeling from this double tragedy and are touched by people's thoughts at this difficult time,” the statement continued.

The family thanked the CFS for the ongoing work during the bushfire crisis.

The Lang's burnt out vehicle at the side of the Playford Highway. Source: Nine News

Kangaroo Island will continue to burn in coming days

Premier Steven Marshall said the deaths were tragic.

"Our hearts go out to the families of those people who have been affected," he said.

"It really does reiterate the very important message that people listen to the alerts. This a very dangerous situation on Kangaroo Island."

Significant property losses are expected from the fire with major damage to tourism and other infrastructure also likely.

About 500 firefighters will continue to battle the blaze over the weekend, with crews and other resources brought in from the SA mainland.

The fire had been burning since late in December but escalated dramatically on Friday when it jumped containment lines during hot and windy conditions.

Relentless fires on Friday ripped through large parts of Kangaroo Island. Source: Facebook

At one stage the entire island was subject to either an emergency warning or a watch and act advice with only the towns of Kingscote and Penneshaw on the east coast considered safe places.

By Saturday morning the situation had eased, with cooler conditions providing an opportunity for fire crews to work on establishing fresh defences.

However, CFS chief officer Mark Jones said it was expected the fire would continue to burn for several days.

The deaths of Dick and Clayton Lang take the national bushfire season’s death toll to 22.

Australia’s southeast coast was facing “unprecedented” conditions on Saturday evening as a volatile southerly made its way along the coastline.

With AAP

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