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Bushfire destroys wilderness retreat as emergency crews look ahead to hot, windy weather

Wednesday January 23, 2019 - 00:34 EDT
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Commercial plane passengers see the extent of the Miena fires in central Tasmania. - ABC

Fire crews faced difficult conditions on Tuesday night as they continued to battle dozens of blazes across Tasmania, with the public told to stay out of remote areas until after the upcoming long weekend for their own safety.



On Tuesday night, the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) confirmed one property had been destroyed near Miena, a small community in the Central Highlands.

The ABC understands the owners of the Skittle Ball Plains Homestead, about 7 kilometres from Miena, were at the property on Tuesday afternoon with TFS personnel when the property, which is sometimes used as a fishing retreat, caught fire at around 5:00pm.

"The residents and firefighters that were working to defend the property are safe," the TFS said in a statement.



As the clock ticked over to midnight (local time) there were still six emergency warnings in place, impacting residents in Liawenee, Shannon, Miena, Penstock Lagoon, Tods Corner and Barren Tier.

Watch and Act alerts were current in Morass Bay, Flintstone and Wilburville. More than 50 fires still burned across the state.

On Tuesday, Bruce Byatt from the TFS said the focus was on protecting communities and significant assets.

"The fires that we have going now are not under control and we expect the weather conditions will make them worse and cause us further problems," he said.



TFS has issued the following advice for people in areas under the emergency warnings:

These fires will put communities at very high risk within the next two hours.
Burning embers will threaten dwellings before the main fire
The fires will be difficult to control
Smoke and ash will make it difficult to see and breathe
If your home is unprepared go to a safer location now only if the path is clear
If your family has made a bushfire survival plan, use it now
If you don't live near one of the emergency areas, stay away
or visit for more information



Australia Day long weekend camping affected

People are being urged to stay out of remote areas from now until the end of the popular Australia Day long weekend.

"Given the high fire conditions across the state [on Tuesday], a number of additional reserves and walking tracks in Tasmania's national parks have been closed," Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) said in a statement, adding it was "highly likely that further closures will be announced as the situation unfolds".

PWS said while the South Coast track and Tasman Peninsula tracks remained open "at this time", it would "continue to monitor fire behaviour".



Friday expected to be the 'worst of the season'

More than 24 aerial firefighting appliances were working across the state on Tuesday, with a large airtanker on its way from New South Wales.



Smoke alerts have been issued for many parts of the state, including greater Hobart, with some firefighting aircraft grounded due to smoke and weather conditions.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast a front to cross the state late on Tuesday night, which was expected to bring a cool change, but the reprieve in conditions was not expected to last long.

The bureau's Simon McCulloch said the conditions were still building up to be hot and windy on Friday.

"We are expecting strong, gusty north-westerly winds, that is probably the key factor," he said.

"Friday will be the worst day of the season."

A total fire ban remains in place until 2:00am Wednesday for southern and northern Tasmania.



Road blocks in place

About 40 people were evacuated from Miena on Monday and no residents will be allowed in for the next couple of days.



Angler Annie Skarratt is renting a shack at Miena over summer.

She was trying to get back to collect her belongings after a week away, but after the road been closed, Ms Skarratt decided against pushing forward.

"It's just not worth it. The authorities have put the sign there for a good reason, I'm not going to play with that and risk my life and affect them too potentially," she said.

"I've got medication in the fridge that I need to get, I've got all sorts of stuff there. A friend cleared some stuff out a couple of days ago which was really lovely of them, but there's still a lot there.

"It's only stuff, I suppose."


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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