Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Wednesday: Total Fire Ban

TODAY is a day of Total Fire Ban throughout all southern Tasmanian municipalities as well as the Northern Midlands and Break O'Day councils. This is in force from 2am today, Wednesday, January 30, until 2am on Thursday, January 31.

TOTAL FIRE BAN INFORMATION

The Tasmania Fire Service has confirmed that three properties have been destroyed by a bushfire burning uncontrollably in the Huon Valley.

TFS chief officer Chris Arnol said the homes on Bermuda Rd and Frypan Rd near Glen Huon were undefendable and praised the homeowners for making early decisions to leave. "Fire crews stayed for as long as they safely could to try to protect these homes but, sadly, they could not be saved," Mr Arnol said. "Thankfully the residents are safe and the decision to leave early was the correct decision."

Mr Arnol implored residents of the Huon and also those living close to the Central Plateau fire to remain vigilant as dangerous weather conditions are expected today (Wednesday).

There will be a total fire ban in the south of the state as well as in the Northern Midlands and the Break O'Day municipalities. Temperatures are expected to reach the low 30s in some areas with strong, gusty winds likely, particularly tomorrow afternoon.

Mr Arnol said the TFS feared more homes could be lost. "We do expect more structure losses. We all need to have a bushfire plan," he said. The TFS is battling four major bushfires across the state: in the Huon Valley, on the Central Plateau, at Gell River in the southwest, and at Zeehan on the West Coast.

More than 400 personnel are working on the fires, including those from interstate and New Zealand, and their ranks will be bolstered by about 60 new arrivals today..

TFS district officer Andrew McGuinness said the Huon Valley communities of Judbury, Lonnavale and Glen Huon were likely to be threatened today and the areas in the paths of the fires had high fuel loads. Firefighters are also working hard to protect critical infrastructure including power generation and transmission lines.

Mr Arnol implored all Tasmanians to remain alert and to heed early warnings. "Awareness is critical. Crews are stretched and conditions can change very quickly," he said.

The TFS advises the community to:

  • Heed the total fire bans in place;
  • Review your bushfire survival plan now;
  • If you don't have a bushfire survival plan, decide now what you and your family will do if a fire breaks out in your area;
  • If you decide to stay and defend your property, make sure you are physically and mentally prepared for this;
  • Continue to report unlisted fires to TFS by calling Triple Zero;
  • Listen to ABC Local Radio and visit fire.tas.gov.au for the latest bushfire information and advice.

Mt Field National Park is closed 
Mt Field National Park closed yesterday and will remain closed today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday 31). This closure was earlier than anticipated but the decision was made on advice. PWS will re-evaluate the situation on Thursday afternoon.

Tasmanians asked to help by conserving water during fires
TasWater asks Tasmanians to avoid non-essential water use during Total Fire Ban days and while bushfires are threatening communities across the state. “Our systems are working at full capacity but people on a reticulated supply really need to reassess how they are using water,” TasWater’s Mark McConnon said.

“We understand people want to protect their properties but we would encourage everyone to make sure they use water efficiently and do not exceed what is identified in their personal bushfire plan. Fire conditions are expected to continue over this week and it is critical we have water available for the Tasmania Fire Service and residents defending their homes from fire.," Mr McConnon said.

The Tasmania Fire Service advises property owners to consider alternative water sources as mains water may not be available at times of fire. TasWater encourages everyone to heed this advice and seek out information from www.fire.tas.gov.au when preparing a personal bushfire plan. “Our treatment plants and pipelines are also at risk in areas of fire activity and while we do everything we can to prepare for such emergencies, we cannot guarantee our facilities will not be affected,” Mr McConnon said.

“We also ask people in areas not under threat from fires to conserve water during a Total Fire Ban. This helps us if we need to provide water for firefighters or cart water to nearby communities.”

Residents in areas at risk of fire may notice lower water pressure due to extra demand. It is unlikely TasWater can improve pressure or flow while demand remains high. Anyone evacuating their homes should turn off taps or hoses before leaving to ensure water is available to firefighters and neighbours protecting homes.

On total fire ban days, Tasmanians are encouraged to reduce their water use by:
  • Turning off all sprinkler systems, including automatic sprinkler systems.
  • Where possible, restricting hose use to essential purposes such as firefighting or prevention.
  • Rescheduling chores that require water, such as watering plants, washing windows or vehicles, to a day that isn’t a Total Fire Ban.
  • More information on conserving water during a Total Fire Ban here: www.taswater.com.au/fireban

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