However, a BBC report says that the authorities fear the number could rise as strong winds fan the flames and residents have been told that their lives are at risk.

The report quotes South Australia’s fire chief Greg Nettleton as saying the blazes are the worst for more than 30 years.

Those fires, in 1983, left 75 people dead.

The fire chief said, “At the moment, we have a fire which is extremely dangerous and it is burning under extremely adverse conditions.”

“Leaving now is the safest option, before conditions become too dangerous,” the fire authority said.

‘Incredibly scary’

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill strongly advised residents at risk to leave immediately or prepare to stay and defend their homes.

He continued, “If you have decided to stay the fire could become incredibly scary and it could make you change your mind and leave.

“It could be a catastrophic decision to leave late.”