Several houses and shacks have been damaged or destroyed by a large bushfire in Tasmania’s north-west as the state’s fire chief says it has been one of the worst fire seasons he has seen.
Some residents were evacuated as emergency warnings were declared for Temma, Arthur River and Nelson Bay.
Residents at Arthur River had to leave their homes while some in Nelson Bay took refuge at the beach.
An emergency warning remains current for Temma but warnings have been downgraded to watch and act in Nelson Bay and Arthur River.
Chief fire officer Gavin Freeman said the fire was being fanned by strong winds.
“It looks like we may not have lost any shacks so its just outbuildings and veranda’s at this point but that could change,” he said.
“We can confirm around 72,000 hectares has been burnt and that gives us around 650 kilometres of fire perimeter that we need to manage.”
Chief officer Freeman said the fire was very difficult to fight.
“Erratic conditions, erratic fire behaviour, and very dry conditions so we can’t rely on what it’s going to do, it’s unpredictable,” he said.
“We’re focusing on trying to slow it down and steer it away from natural resources and infrastructure.
“Realistically we won’t get these fires extinguished by next week.”
There have been no reports of any injuries but a 70-year-old man has been treated for smoke inhalation.
Police have urged people to reconsider plans to visit fire-affected areas.
Assistant Commissioner Rob Bonde said the fires were unpredictable and travelling near them could be dangerous.
“On a personal level if it was me I would be seriously considering the risk of staying there as opposed to the safety of relocating.”
Firefighters among people evacuated to beach
David Hardy, who owns a property in Arthur River said six firefighters were also evacuated to the beach.
“They’re saying conditions are just too extreme to attempt to even fight it,” he said.
“They had to take refuge with us. Apart from being able to breathe, the visibility is just zero.
“It’s absolute hell, you can’t see 10 feet.
“When you can it’s just an eerie pool of evil-looking smoke.
“The firefighters, there’s six of them here because one of the bridges has burnt out and they can’t get reinforcements in.”
The Tasmanian Fire Service (TFS) dispatched more tankers and three water bombers to boost crews on the ground.
Couta Rocks lobster fisher Graham Airey said he would use his boat to evacuate people from the area if needed.
“I’ve got a big fishing boat here and if it got to that stage I’d put everybody on the boat and head to sea,” he said.
The fire began on Wuthering Heights Road, and has burnt through about 7,000 hectares, including Forestry Tasmania land.
A watch and act alert is also current for Mawbanna, west of Burnie.