By Alana Mazzoni and Brett Lackey For Daily Mail Australia
Published: 07:16 GMT, 22 December 2019 | Updated: 07:18 GMT, 22 December 2019
More than 70 homes have been destroyed in South Australia’s devastating bushfires that claimed the life of a 69-year-old engineer.
Ron Selth, who died in the Cudlee Creek bushfire in the Adelaide Hills over the weekend, has been remembered by his family and friends as a doting and generous man.
‘He will be remembered for his incredible – sometimes injury-causing – hugs and will be deeply missed by his family and his many friends,’ Mr Selth’s family said in a statement.
‘Some people give firm hugs – I don’t know what’s beyond firm, but that’s what Dad occasionally delivered. When he gave a hug, he meant it.’
The grandfather’s body was found on his Charleston property after the bushfires swept through last Friday.
Ron Selth (pictured), 69, who died in the Cudlee Creek bushfire in the Adelaide Hills over the weekend, is being remembered as a doting and generous man
Mr Selth’s body was found on his Charleston property after the deadly bushfires swept through last Friday
The number of homes destroyed in the Cudlee Creek bushfire has risen to 72, as well as 404 ‘outbuildings’ on properties and 227 vehicles
‘Ron was a loving, optimistic and generous man, who valued his relationships with family and friends more than anything else,’ the family told The Advertiser.
‘He built a highly successful engineering business that contributed to the design of thousands of buildings in SA, mainly in the Adelaide Hills, and is often described as having a unique and unforgettable character.’
Neighbour Michael McFarlane told 9News Mr Selth was a ‘nice bloke’.
‘I didn’t know the gentleman was up there. Now, if I had have known, I would have jumped in this machine behind me, went and picked him up and brought him back here as the fire was getting closer,’ he added.
Mr Selth left behind his partner Suzy, his children Luke, Jasmine and Johanna, and his six grandchildren.
A number of other people remain injured, and 3000 properties in the Adelaide Hills remain without power.
The number of homes destroyed in the Cudlee Creek bushfire has risen to 72, as well as 404 ‘outbuildings’ on properties and 227 vehicles.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said there were ‘scenes of absolute devastation’ as residents returned to their homes that had been reduced to rubble.
Emergency crews have also suffered injuries with 23 firefighters injured, one seriously, and two police officers needing treatment.
Residents put out spot fires on Station Road in Woodside in the Adelaide Hills in Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, 20 December 2019
An aerial view shows a bushfire at Adelaide Hills near Adelaide, Australia December 20, 2019
A general view shows smoke from a bushfire near Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, 21 December 2019
Meanwhile, smoke from the Adelaide Hills bushfire had dropped the city’s air quality rating to poor.
The Environment Protection Authority says air quality readings are improving but parts of the hills and metropolitan area remain affected by bushfire smoke.
The situation on Sunday was further exacerbated by an early morning temperature inversion layer which kept smoke low to the ground.
The EPA said anyone with health issues or concerns should stay inside with windows and doors closed.
A watch and act warning remains in place for the blaze, with the Country Fire Service reporting some renewed fire activity within the 127-kilometre perimeter.
The fire has burnt through more than 25,000 hectares and destroyed at least 15 homes.
Before it was sparked on Friday, the Bureau of Meteorology also reported that smoke from the NSW bushfires had made its way to Adelaide.
Building destroyed by a fire in Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Burnt paddock in Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills, Adelaide, South Australia
A Woodside resident battles a fire as it crosses Ridge Road at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills in Adelaide, South Australia
The massive Cudlee Creek fire in the Adelaide Hills has ravaged 25,000 hectares of country.
Another fatality was also reported at Lameroo when a car hit a tree sparking a grass fire.
‘There has been devastation right across the Adelaide Hills and the extent of that is yet to be seen,’ he said.
‘Many people in the affected areas haven’t had the opportunity to go back and assess the damage and I think there will be some pretty devastating scenes ahead of Christmas.’
‘We know in addition to those losses there are very significant losses of livestock, animals, crops and vineyards.
‘It’s going to be a scene of devastation, especially for those people in the Adelaide Hills who’ve been most affected.’
The cause of the Cudlee Creek fire is still being investigated but is believed to have been caused by a branch falling on a powerline.
Building destroyed by a fire in Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills, Adelaide, South Australia
More than SEVENTY homes are destroyed in deadly bushfires in South Australia
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