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

Tasmania fire requires evacuations

map fire George Town, Tasmania
The red dots represent heat produced by a fire in northern Tasmania east of George Town, March 4, 2015.

A 1,700-acre wildfire in northern Tasmania, an island state south of the Australian mainland, forced dozens of residents to evacuate Wednesday afternoon, local time. The fire started Tuesday afternoon during strong winds and was still burning actively on Wednesday, prompting firefighters to call for Bomber 390 (aka Tanker 131), the C-130H air tanker that has been stationed across the Bass Strait at Avalon, Victoria during the down under summer. This map shows the approximate location of the drop made by the air tanker east of George Town, Tasmania.

Authorities said on Wednesday the fire was expected to flare up again on Thursday, when winds are expected to pick up.

‘This fire will be difficult to control,’ the Tasmania Fire Service said in a statement. ‘Burning embers, falling on the township of Lefroy will threaten (homes) before the main fire.’

flight path of Tanker 131
The flight path of Tanker 131 to and from a fire in Tasmania. Down under it is known as Bomber 390.

Satellite photo of fires in Tasmania

Satellite photo, fires in Tasmania
Satellite photo, fires in Tasmania, October 6, 2013. NASA. (click to enlarge)

This NASA satellite photo shows the entire island of Tasmania south of Australia. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image showing numerous fires across the island on January 6, 2013. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected the unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. A higher-resolution version of the image can be downloaded HERE.

Firefighter dies in Australia

Peter Cramer
Peter Cramer, on the day he was presented an award for 20 years of CFA volunteer service, DSE photo

UPDATE: January 14, 2013. The deceased firefighter has been identified as Peter Ronald Cramer, 61, a 30-year volunteer from the town of Tyers, Victoria about 160km east of Melbourne. The latest information is that he been on foot identifying containment lines before he was found deceased on a track at 5pm on Sunday.

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A firefighter from Gippsland aged in his 60s died Sunday while working on a wildfire in Tasmania. The man was one of 70 from Victoria that had been sent to assist with the suppression of fires raging in the state. News.com.au reported that the firefighter was on foot conducting a backburning operation on the Forcett Fire when he was killed near Taranna, about 30 air miles southeast of Hobart (map).

The firefighter’s family has been notified but his name has not been released to the public.

The Forcett fire started on November 16 and has burned 24,040 hectares (59,404 acres) within a perimeter of 200km. It is being fought by 150 firefighters using 39 tankers and four aircraft.

Our sincere condolences go out to the firefighter’s family and co-workers.