Sunday , February 28 2021

The rain brings a bit of rest, but the danger of forest fires is far from over in Tasmania



Firefighters battling 42 fires across the state are taking advantage of lower temperatures and lower rainfall to consolidate before the hot Sunday weather.

Improved weather conditions today allowed lowering of fire alerts in the Huon Valley – but the state's fire chief warned that the crisis is far from over.

The State Government has appointed a recovery coordinator to help rebuild communities affected by fire.

Weak rainfall fell on parts of the west coast and the Huon Valley on Thursday, though not enough to wipe out a major forest fire in the southern state that continues to threaten towns and villages.

Fire officials say the current fires have consumed 178,000 hectares – equivalent to about 2.7 percent of the island's land mass.

The Health Department warned vulnerable residents of Cygnet to consider leaving the city full of smoke because of their health.

Chris Arnol, chief executive of the Tasmania Fire Service, said the soldiers were working to make the most of two days of reasonable weather.

FOR THE LAST FIRE WARNINGS, CLICK HERE

media_cameraMichael Cassey of Sustainable Timber Tasmania, and Justin Fashion of Ground Management Mapping, a forest fire management consultancy in consolidation mode near Geeveston today. Photo: RICHARD JUPE

"The firefighters are in the process of consolidation now. But, make no mistake, the fire still poses a risk to the communities, "he said.

"We are expecting another challenging day on Sunday, so we are working to strengthen the containment lines we already have in place

"We understand that our community is tired and concerned, but we share those concerns and we are really thinking about everyone involved in these fires.

"Firefighters are working hard for you, but it's still a dynamic situation."

Arnol also urged homeowners to take care of conserving the city's water supplies, which were being overwhelmed by the demands of the firefighting efforts.

Improved weather conditions today meant that several warnings for fire-affected areas were lowered.

Emergency warnings for Franklin, Waterloo, Surges Bay, Brooks Bay, Glendevie and Police Point were demoted to watch and act.

The warning to Dover was lowered from wakefulness and act to the counseling level and Huonville remained at the counseling level.

Geeveston, Forbes Bay Castle, Glen Huon, Lonnavale and Judbury all remained subject to the status of emergency notices.

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TFS district official Andrew McGuinness told reporters that things were getting better at the moment.

"In fact, we are making some significant progress as the fire descends from the bush and penetrates the lawns. Firefighters are able to do active suppression activities," he said.

"People need to stay vigilant. Conditions could change very quickly and we would ask people to be in the foreground as Sunday approached as the fires could run that day and impact on the communities surrounded by those fires. "

media_cameraMichael Casssey of Sustainable Timber Tasmania serves the fire front south of Geeveston. Photo: RICHARD JUPE

Southern Tasmania regional police controller Tony Cerritelli revealed that police were implementing plans to resupply Geeveston and surrounding areas if the Huon highway was cut by fire.

"We are looking at the water options," he said. "So we are working hard with various entities to activate this for a variety of reasons – whether by evacuations, goods and services or for any other purpose that we may need.

"We are aware that we must try to keep this arterial road open, but it has to be sustained by security at all times."

media_cameraGeorge Auchterlonie informing the teams of the Geeveston fire station today. Photo: RICHARD JUPE

Also yesterday, Wildlife Service and Parks spokesman Ashley Rushton revealed that the fire had entered a small part of Mount Field National Park, although in other areas work to protect wilderness values ​​has been successful.

"We have made protections for assets of natural value that have been very successful.

"At the top of Mount Anne, most of our communities of alpine vegetation were saved by those we could put into practice. We have used Sisalation (a metal insulation sheet) to wrap up our other historical stalls in this area and we are also considering this for the Walls of Jerusalem and that is also working today as well. "

Public health director Mark Veitch warned that high levels of smoke continued to pose a health risk to some residents of Cygnet.

"Today we take the unusual step of strongly recommending vulnerable people in Cygnet to take time out of their city in the interest of their health," Veitch said.

"We did this because we know that there will be a proportion of vulnerable people who have lived in Cygnet in the last two weeks, ie people with heart disease, lung disease, the elderly, young children and pregnant women.

Video provided obtained Thursday, January 31, 2019 from the aftermath of a fire near Neil Randle House in Glen Huon in Tasmania. Hundreds of firefighters are in a position to fight dozens of fires in Tasmania as the winds are expected to put more cities in the firing line. (AAP Video / Provided / Neil Randle) NO FILE, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

RAW: Tas Fire Aftermath near Home in Glen Huon

"The levels of smoke that have occurred in Cygnet in recent weeks and what we can expect over the next few weeks can put their health at risk. So we are urging these people to spend time away from Cygnet in places that are much less full of smoke. "

And Premier Will Hodgman announced that Dunalley's fire recovery coordinator, Michael Stevens, was asked to play the same role, helping the state recover from the latest fires.

"While there are many people who are facing the possibility of forest fires as we speak, some have already entered a recovery process and will be a long and continuous process," he said.

"A recovery coordinator does provide field support and assistance services in a coordinated manner, working closely with local councils and ensuring that any affected Tasmania living in an area affected by forest fires is compromised. able to get the support and services they need. "

Stevens told reporters that work would begin immediately.

"One of the things we learned, as Premier said, is that recovery begins before the danger passes, so it begins now.

"As the Tasmanian Fire Service continues to combat forest fires, we turn our attention to how we can support those Tasmanians whose lives are being altered by these events.

"It is important that we listen to those who have been affected and we hear from them about how we can support their recovery."

Residents of Huon and Kingborough leaving their homes because of forest fires are advised to:

Huon Evacuation Center in the Huy Valley PCYC, at 42 Wilmot Road, remains open and active.

Kingborough Evacuation Center at Kingborough Sports Center will be closed at night as there are currently no people using the center. This center will reopen at 10am on Friday.


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