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Kangaroo Island timber hit by second fire

Alex Druce
The total area razed at a Kangaroo Island timber is now more than 1,800 hectares

The managers of a Kangaroo Island timber plantation are on an urgent mission to salvage as much unburnt wood as they can after a second bushfire in two weeks brought the total area razed to more than 1,800 hectares.

Shares in the ASX-listed Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers slumped by as much as 12 per cent at the open of trade on Thursday after the company emerged from a fire-necessitated trading halt requested on December 30.

The company said lightning sparked a fresh blaze in the Ravine des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area and spread north into the timber farm off the South Australian coast, burning another 971 hectares - or 7.0 per cent of the Kangaroo Island estate.

The plantation burned had an insured value of $8.45 million.

"Despite the efforts of National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia, Country Fire Service, company staff and our contract partners, these fires could not be contained and affected two of the company's plantations," company secretary Victoria Allinson told the ASX on Thursday.

Since December 20, 1,863 hectares have been scorched - more than six times the size of the Sydney CBD.

The Duncan fire burned 891 hectares of timber with an insured value of $11.6 million.

As was the case during last week's fire, the affected plantations included pines at various stages of maturity, and relatively mature eucalypts.

Shares in Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers were down 11.33 per cent at $1.995 by 1100 AEDT - a fresh seven-month low and down 23 per cent since October.

Although the potential for flareups remains, the company said it was turning its attention to salvage operations, both for its own trees and those of independent growers.

"The salvage of pines and eucalypts that have been killed, but not consumed, by a rapidly moving fire front must be carried out immediately, before the quality of the unburnt wood deteriorates," the company said.

"Therefore, it will be necessary to bring forward harvest and replanting operations in affected areas, and reschedule operations in unaffected areas that would otherwise have been harvested sooner."

The company said the salvage operations should provide employment and economic benefits that would not have occurred until after the proposed Kangaroo Island Seaport at Smith Bay had been completed.

It has asked for local and state governments to put the necessary interim export solutions in place including barging fire-affected logs off the island.