Rising fire danger in Tasmania sees TFS put more resources into uncontrolled Gell River bushfire



January 10, 2019 12:14:57

Extra helicopters, firefighters and remote area paramedics are being flown in from interstate in preparation for two days of very high fire danger in Tasmania’s south.

Key points:

  • There is a very high fire danger on Friday and Saturday in Tasmania
  • Additional firefighting crews are being brought in from NSW
  • Crews will be camped on the fire line for rapid response

The massive Gell River bushfire has been burning for about two weeks since being sparked by lightning strikes in the rugged and remote South West Wilderness World Heritage Area.

More than 20,000 hectares of fragile alpine wilderness has been burnt out.

Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) Chief Officer Chris Arnol said hot conditions on Friday and Saturday would bring with them the potential for elevated fire danger in parts of the state.

“[On Friday] we are expecting low relative humidity and high temperatures about parts of the South East and Upper Derwent Valley, which will generate very high fire dangers,” he said.

“Moving into Saturday we expect very high fire dangers to remain in the Midlands and Upper Derwent Valley and extend to the North West and Central North districts.

“People in bushfire-prone areas need to understand that under these conditions, fires can start and spread easily.”

Mr Arnol said the TFS would get crews and aircraft in position to respond quickly in the areas most at risk.

“We have requested two additional helicopters from New South Wales to assist with rapid response to bushfires and protect communities,” he said.

“Base camp infrastructure is also on its way to Tasmania from NSW so we can accommodate our local firefighters as close to the fireground as possible.”

Twelve firefighters and two remote area paramedics from New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) with specialised remote area skills will also assist with the response to the Gell River fire in the south-west.

“These self-sufficient crews, called ‘arduous rated remote area firefighters’, will be sent to the wilderness area of the fireground first thing [Friday] morning,” Mr Arnol said.

“Their skills include the ability to camp on the fire line in remote wilderness areas and carry their own firefighting equipment.

“The crew from NSW will complement the work being done by Tasmanian remote area teams from Parks and Wildlife and Tasmania Fire Service. They will be focusing on a specific edge of the fire that suits their skills.”

The firefighters will be in Tasmania for five days, with another group arriving for a second five-day period next week.

The TFS has urged people in the area to stay up to date on fires by proactively checking the TFS website and listening to ABC Local Radio.







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