Monday, January 7, 2019

Monday update on the South-West bushfire

Updated map of the fire area. Click to enlarge.
FIREFIGHTERS continue to work on bringing a fire burning near Gell River in the state's South-West under control. More than 60 Tasmania Fire Service, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service and Sustainable Timber Tasmania fire crews with help from incident controllers and firefighting aircraft have been working on the fire.

The fire has so far burnt about 20,000 hectares of buttongrass and mixed forest vegetation northwest of Maydena and is now about 10km northwest of Tim Shea in the Vale of Rasselas.

Tasmania Fire Service public information officer Andrew Emery said there were a number of fire-sensitive World Heritage values in the area, including the alpine plateau above Lake Rhona and areas of mixed forest and temperate rainforest. "Specific World Heritage values at risk from the fire include pencil pines, king billy pines, peat soils and cushion plants," Mr Emery said.

"There is currently no threat to the public however conditions can change quickly and the public is urged to monitor the TFS website for fire updates," he said.

TFS incident controller Rod Sherrin said although the fire was still uncontained, good progress was being made using favourable weather conditions to help bring the fire under control. "Specialist remote area firefighters are working considerably hard in difficult terrain to extinguish the fire," said.

Mr Sherrin said a sprinkler line installed at Lake Rhona had so far been successful in protecting the fire-sensitive vegetation in that area while firefighters have also worked to protect other areas of significant environmental value.

"A specialist NSW Rural Fire Service helicopter continues to provide infrared scanning to identify hot spots for water bombing and on the ground firefighting activities as well as accurate fire boundary information. The fire has had some impact on Permanent Timber Production Zone land. An assessment of the impact will be made in the coming days."

A temporary bridge has been put across the Florentine River to enable heavy machinery to access the eastern side of the fire.

Smoke is likely to affect the south of the state for several and air quality is being closely monitored. People with medical conditions are advised to have a personal plan for avoiding smoke from the burn. Advice is available from the Department of Health  or the Asthma Foundation of Tasmania.

For information on current road closures, see the Tasmania Police website.

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