ADELAIDE, Australia – Out-of-control wildfires have caused at least two deaths, 13 injuries and have destroyed at least 16 homes near the southern Australian city of Adelaide, officials said on Thursday.
Two bodies were recovered on Wednesday and there was an unconfirmed report that a person fleeing the blaze died in a car wreck in the razed rural area, South Australia state Premier Jay Weatherill said.
The confirmed casualties were a 56-year-old woman and a 69-year-old man. Their names were not released.
At least two firefighters were among the 13 people hospitalized by the blaze that had scorched 85,000 hectares (210,000 acres) of farm and woodland and threatened several towns near Adelaide, the state's capital and largest city, Weatherill said.
Five of those injured were in critical or serious conditions with burns.
"Their condition is being closely monitored, but we do hold grave concerns," Weatherill told reporters.
The blaze remained uncontrolled on Wednesday night with more than 300 firefighters at the 40-kilometer (25-mile) fire front. Reinforcements were on their way, Country Fire Service chief officer Greg Nettleton said.
Water bombing aircraft would be flown in Thursday to help local efforts, he said.
Firefighters would focus on containing the blaze along a 210-kilometer (130-mile) perimeter, he said.
"We're hoping to have the fire declared contained in the next two or three days, but we'll only do that when we're sure there's no prospect of breakaways," Nettleton said.
Australia's southern hemisphere summer wildfire season has made an early and lethal start after much of the country recorded a hot and dry spring.
Wildfires killed four people near the southwest town of Esperance two weeks ago.
Destructive wildfires are common across much of Australia during the summer. In 2009, wildfires killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria state.