Tasmanian bushfire damage grows

Twitter picture of bushfire east of Hobart posted by Tasmanian MP, Rebecca White.
Twitter picture of bushfire east of Hobart posted by Tasmanian MP, Rebecca White.


A bushfire that tore through the Tasmanian town of Dunalley on Friday has burned on to spread and take dozens more properties.

Despite easing weather, firefighters were still battling the extensive blaze, which stretched 30 km. through farmland and beach hamlets towards the Tasman Peninsula, east of Hobart.

"There is still substantial fire activity they are dealing with," Tasmanian Fire Service officer, John Holloway, said on Saturday.

Bushfires have destroyed at least 85 properties in Tasmania, with more than 70 homes in Dunalley.

The Tasmanian Fire Service has one emergency warning on its website of a large bushfire on the Tasman Highway in Bicheno.

‘‘Fire under these conditions can be uncontrollable and unpredictable,’’ it said.

Police said in a statement that about 30 per cent of the town had been destroyed, but there were no confirmed reports of deaths or major injuries.

Fears had been held for one Dunalley resident last seen by firefighters attempting to save his house, and police said. Another 15 properties went up at nearby Boomer Bay.

Later on Friday the fire broke away from its starting point closer to Hobart to advance through forest and threaten waterside towns.

About 40 per cent of the structures at the small hamlet of Connellys Marsh were destroyed, and homes were reported lost at Copping and Primrose Sands, police said.

The volunteer Sea Rescue Tasmania took four boats out to communities whose roads were cut, including at Connollys Marsh.

"The boys said when they got back that they saw something they never wanted to see again," a Sea Rescue co-ordinator, Cheryl Piper, said.  "At Connollys Marsh there was fire down to the water's edge."

Further down the peninsula at Murdunna, police said more than 20 houses were reported to have been destroyed.

Thousands of people evacuated from their homes and holiday houses to nearby beaches, and many were stranded on the peninsula when the fire cut the single highway.

About 400 people sheltered at the Port Arthur Historic Site, and commercial ferry operators said they evacuated around 800 people out of the peninsula overnight.

"We're refuelling and we're about to head off again," said Peppermint Bay Cruises operator Rob Peart.

Elsewhere around Tasmania, big fires were still burning west of the city in the Derwent Valley, and on the east coast at Bicheno, but without property damage.

This story Tasmanian bushfire damage grows first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.