Long clean-up on Kangaroo Island is further distressing residents, after the destructive bushfires in January

Long clean-up on Kangaroo Island is further distressing residents, after the destructive bushfires in January

The long wait to clear bushfire rubble is distressing many Kangaroo Island residents, with some burying the debris themselves.

Four weeks after the devastating blaze, some residents say they have been compelled to dig pits at their properties to dump debris.

The Advertiser on Wednesday revealed an agreement to co-fund the clean up of Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills properties, anticipated to cost $14 million, was struck between the State and Federal Governments. Clean-up efforts are underway.

Australian Army Sapper Paul Tighe chainsaws debris in the Kelly Hill Caves Conservation Park to clear and re-open the site for tourism.

But Mawson MP Leon Bignell said farmers have been “in tears” because they have been forced to stare at the rubble for so long.

“I am fearful for the mental health of people on the island who are homeless and whose homes have not been cleared,” he said.

“They’re more than frustrated … people are in really dark places. We can’t do anything about the fire but we can do things about the clean-up and the response.”

Jared McArdle of the Taljar Polwarth stud at Parndana lost two family homes in the fire and about 15 per cent of their sheep flock.

Kangaroo Island Mayor Michael Pengilly said “ink-bound bureaucracy” was behind the delay.

“There are people, a week and a half to two weeks ago, buried their own sheds and houses,” Mr Pengilly said.

“They were sick of waiting.

“I don’t blame the State or Federal Government for this, I blame the bureaucracy who were too slow in delivering what they had to do.”

Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie said the clean-up fund was welcome but “it should have been announced a month ago”.

Eighty-nine island properties were scorched during the January fires.

Kangaroo Island farmer Rick Morris' property on Kangaroo Island was burnt in January.

The Advertiser has seen a text message sent to some residents following a bushfire recovery meeting, stating: “KI Council have advised that non hazardous waste can be either buried in a pit at the back of your own property or dumped at the FRWA Waste Depot”.

A SA Government spokesman said some KI properties had already been assessed, and encouraged residents to contact Green Industries SA before dumping waste on their land.

Islander Estate Vineyards owner Yale Norris was concerned 60km of poly pipe from his property could end up in landfill because he lived on KI – despite it being recycled and re-used to create more piping on the mainland.

RSPCA takes wildlife rescue efforts into Flinders Chase

Wildlife recovery teams have moved into the Flinders Chase National Park on bushfire-ravaged Kangaroo Island with access granted for the first time since the fires in December and January.

The RSPCA says its operations on the island are now into their fifth week with work in the national park to include establishing feed stations and looking for injured animals or those suffering from a lack of food or water.

RSPCA volunteer Melanie Lambert with an echidna in Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island.

The Flinders Chase park was one of the worst-hit areas of the island, with most of it blackened as the December blaze escalated.

The RSPCA has established 40 feed stations across the island and says there is evidence animals are using them. Motion-activated cameras are to be installed to gather more information on surviving animals.