Sat, Jan 15, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Fear of looting soon follows the bushfires in Australia

AP , Adelaide, Australia

Residents picking through homes destroyed by Australia's worst wildfires in more than two decades yesterday said they feared looters could target their properties.

The fires, which started on Monday, ripped across South Australia state's Eyre Peninsula -- about 400km west of Adelaide, killing nine people. More than 110 people were injured, and as many as 30,000 head of livestock perished in the flames, which were contained on Thursday.

The deadly fires also destroyed about 83,000 hectares of grass and farmland. Early estimates put the damage at more than A$15 million (US$11.4 million).

Shirley Tucknott managed to flee her home in the tiny community of White Flat just moments before the fire engulfed her property, killing 400 sheep and other livestock. Of the 12 homes in White Flat, only three were spared.

Tucknott returned with her children after the fires were contained late on Thursday to sift through the rubble. As the family sorted through their charred possessions, a suspicious car drove onto the property but turned and sped away once the driver noticed people were there, she said.

"I don't have an enemy in the world," Tucknott said yesterday. "But for strangers to come through, trying to grab what they could -- I could murder the buggers."

Tucknott planned to sleep in a trailer on her property to deter thieves.

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