Wildfires that have been burning for weeks in Tasmania, the southernmost state in Australia, continue to spread and affect properties and air quality on the island. Some of the blazes in the central part of the state are burning in deep-seated organic soil, peat, and are likely to keep burning through the Australian summer.
Below is an excerpt from Radio New Zealand:
The fires have been burning since late December, in the Gell River area, after a heatwave and a period of lightning strikes and high winds. The fires were burning across 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres) of mountainous terrain.
Haze from bushfire smoke is blanketing several Tasmanian towns, with hot and dry conditions across the state and more than 30 blazes already burning setting the scene for a nervous few days.
South of Hobart, air quality monitoring data measured smoke particles at 8.00am as being at elevated levels, with Geeveston at 35 times that of Hobart. Residents living in the Huon Valley, where smoke from the bushfire at Gell River has filled the sky, posted on social media that many had not seen conditions as bad, with some mentioning 1967 as the only year which came close – the year of Tasmania’s worst fire disaster.
On Facebook, George Henry Ross asked locals if they had ever seen so much smoke haze around the valley.
“I can’t remember a summer like it,” he said, with many agreeing.
Eric Bat said he had been chatting with a bloke who did remember a summer like it: 1967.
“We rather hoped things have improved since then.”
Reinforcements are being sent to Tasmania from New South Wales, Queensland, and New Zealand.
At least two large air tankers from the Australian mainland are helping out.
And personnel, as well…
Additional personnel from #NSWRFS, @ACTRFS, @FRNSW and @NSWAmbulance have left Sydney for Tasmania this afternoon. They will assist with incident management and remote area firefighting functions as fires continue to burn across the Tasmanian wilderness. pic.twitter.com/OiEOqsdYxh
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 20, 2019
Sixteen remote area firefighters and incident management specialists left Sydney today for Tasmania. Firefighters from #NSWRFS and @OEHmedia, supported by @NSWAmbulance, will assist with the ongoing firefighting effort over the next few days. @TasFireService pic.twitter.com/btETL4FkqE
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 19, 2019
15 of our best have made their way to #Tasmania this weekend to assist local crews battling blazes in intense heatwave conditions. 🔥 It’s great to be able to repay our neighbours for the hard work they put in during Qld’s severe fires last year. 👏 @TasFireService pic.twitter.com/WzWsh15lKW
— Qld Fire & Emergency (@QldFES) January 20, 2019