Firefighters from NSW, Queensland, and New Zealand sent to assist with wildfires in Tasmania

wildfires in Tasmania satellite photo
Satellite photo of smoke from wildfires in Tasmania, January 21, 2019. The red dots represent heat detected by the satellite. NASA & Wildfire Today.

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…

Firefighters from NSW assist with Tasmania bushfire

Gell River Fire Tasmania
Gell River Fire. Photo by Andrew MacDonald

Firefighters in New South Wales have traveled across the Bass Strait to assist their brothers and sisters in Tasmania. The five personnel will be working with the Tasmania Fire Service, specifically on the Gell River Fire in the southwest part of the state. The deployment of five arrived Sunday to assume specialist aviation roles operating out of Hobart and Strathgordon.

Map Gell River Fire in Tasmania, Australia
Map showing the location of the Gell River Fire in Tasmania, Australia.

The Gell River Fire has burned 50,600 acres (20,500 ha) primarily in Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Portions of the fire are burning in peat, which means the deep-seated blaze will likely persist for months and continue to produce smoke.

Below is an update on the fire from the Tasmania Fire Service:

The fire continues to burn in buttongrass and mixed forest vegetation in the Vale of Rasselas, approximately 10 kilometres northwest of Tim Shea and along the Denison Range and Gordon Range. A sprinkler line around the northern side of Lake Rhona was successful in protecting fire-sensitive vegetation communities. Fire fighters and aerial water-bombing also managed to protect these vegetation communities in other areas. Specialist remote area fire fighters are working in rugged terrain to extinguish the fire. Although the fire is still uncontained, suppression operations conducted by fire fighters and water bombing aircraft have been successful to date, with many active fire edges minimised. An increase in smoke may be visible in the Greater Hobart area, Derwent Valley and Huon Valley on Tuesday evening and Wednesday due to increased fire activity, particularly at the southern end of the fire. Resources currently deployed to the Gell River bushfire include 60 personnel and eight aircraft. Tasmania Fire Service
This image of smoke from the Gell River Fire was captured by a satellite on January 4, 2019. Since then the activity has decreased due to a change in the weather. The red dots indicate heat detected by the satellite.
Gell River Fire Tasmania helicopter
Photo by Andrew MacDonald
Gell River Fire Tasmania helicopter
Photo by Andrew MacDonald
Gell River Fire Tasmania
Gell River Fire. Photo by Andrew MacDonald
This image of smoke from the Gell River Fire was captured by a satellite on January 4, 2019. Since then the activity has decreased due to a change in the weather. The red dots indicate heat detected by the satellite.

Large wildfire in Tasmania sends smoke into Hobart

The fire near Gell River has burned over 37,000 acres

A large wildfire that started in the Gell River area in the Australian state of Tasmania has burned more than 37,000 acres (15,000 Ha) mostly in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. The fire is approaching Lake Rhona and Gordon River and has sent embers into Mount Field National Park. The blaze was burning button grass but has moved into timber and peat areas, which could result in it persisting for months.

Dense smoke that spread toward the southeast heavily impacted Hobart as you can see in this satellite photo.

Tasmania Fire Gell River
Wildfire in southwest Tasmania that started near Gell River, currently burning in Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. The red dots indicate heat detected by the satellite. Photo, January 4, 2018.

Paul Black of the Parks and Wildlife Service said, “We’ll be considering further retardant drops, back-burning operations, a lot of water bombing, and hot and cold trailing of the active edge of the fire.”

Clouds and cooler weather moved in and slowed the spread of the fire on January 4.

smoke Hobart Tasmania Fire Gell River
Wildfire smoke from the Gell River Fire impacts Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Photo by Olivia Hicks.

Bushfires continue to burn in Tasmania

At least 26 bushfires are being fought by firefighters in Tasmania.

Photo above: Backburning near Arthur River in northwest Tasmania, January 29, 2016. Photo by W. Frey.

Bushfires that have been raging across northwest Tasmania for several weeks are still causing great concern in the island state south of Australia.

One of the fires in the Central Plateau has burned about 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) in the World Heritage Area, about 1.2 percent of the WHA. Unique alpine flora such as pencil pines, king billy pines and cushion plants — some more than 1,000 years old — have been destroyed.

World Heritage site burned Tasmania
A burned area at a World Heritage site in Tasmania. Photo by Dan Broun.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has sent many of their wildland firefighters across the Bass Strait to assist their neighbors in Tasmania.

NSW RFS firefighters Tasmania
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has sent a great deal of aid to assist with the fires in Tasmania. In these photos equipment is arriving to set up a camp capable of sleeping 150 firefighters at Moles Creek. Next week more firefighters and fire engines will be mobilized to Tasmania. NWS RFS photos.

Three air tankers from North America that have been working in Australia during their summer bushfire season have also been deployed, including a DC-10, Avro RJ85, and a C-130. This may be the first time these large aerial firefighting resources have been used in Tasmania. The Fire Service felt it was necessary to warn the residents to “not be alarmed” when they saw the air tankers “flying a bit low over the coast”. More information about the air tankers in Tasmania is at Fire Aviation.

DC-10 air tanker Tasmania
A DC-10 air tanker being used to fight wildfires in Tasmania. Photo by Tasmania Fire Service.

Most of the most active bushfires are in the northwest part of Tasmania. Three of the largest are in these areas:

  • Arthur River and Nelson Bay. 21,000 hectares (52,000 acres).
  • Pipeland Road. 62,000 hectares (153,000 acres).
  • Lake Mackenzie Road. 25,000 hectares (68,000 acres).

Another fire in the southwest part of the state has burned 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) between Lake Gordon and Lake Pedder.

At least 26 bushfires are still active while 48 others have been contained.

Below are maps showing the locations of the fires, and more photos.

Continue reading “Bushfires continue to burn in Tasmania”

Bushfire threatens coastal towns in northwest Tasmania

Some evacuation routes may be cut off by the fire.

Northwest Tas bushfire 1325 UTC Jan 25 2016
The icons represent heat detected by a satellite at 1:25 p.m. UTC, January 25, 2015.

Residents in some coastal towns in northwest Tasmania, Australia have been advised to evacuate as a bushfire spreads closer to the communities. The fire is within four to eight miles (6 to 12 km) of Arthur River, Nelson Bay, Couta Rocks, and Temma.

The Tasmania Fire Service warned at 6:52 a.m. local time on January 27 that Nelson Bay and Temma were “at high risk NOW”, advising that “burning embers … will threaten your home before the main fire”.

Residents from Temma and Couta Rocks may not be able to travel north to their evacuation center. The TFS said “there is a nearby safer place at the beach”.

Firefighters in Tasmania battling numerous fires

More than 50 fires are burning uncontrolled across Tasmaina in Australia.

Map of fires in Tasmania
Map of fires in Tasmania.

Firefighters in Tasmania have had their hands full in recent days dealing with a rash of fires burning across the island state south of the Australian mainland. More than 42,000 hectares (103,000 acres) have burned in the past 10 days.

At least partially due to moderating weather, all of the fires are now at the “Advice” warning level or lower, meaning people in the area should keep up to date with developments, but there is no immediate need to start taking action or to evacuate.

Approximately 100 firefighters from New South Wales and Victoria on the Australian mainland will travel to Tasmania Saturday to assist with the fires. Equipment, including two firefighting helicopters from New South Wales, is already on its way. NSW is also sending an 18-person Incident Management Team.

One of the larger fires has burned almost 18,000 hectares (44,000 acres) 28 kilometers (17 miles) south of Smithton in the general vicinity of Sumac Road, Dempster Plains, and Temma. Parts of the fire have not spread recently but the western, northern and southern edges remain active. There has been a run from the northeast corner through the Luncheon Hill area. The fire is east of the Western Explorer Road and has crossed Tarkine Wilderness Drive. Crews are working in the northwest area of the fire to protect forests assets.

fires in Tasmania