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Rains bring relief to bushfire-weary Tasmanian towns and fire crews

James Dunlevie, Friday February 8, 2019 - 05:40 EDT
ABC image
Rain has finally come to Tasmania, after months of very dry weather. - ABC

Storms across Tasmania have brought some much needed relief to the bushfire crisis that has gripped the state, with people posting joyous messages of thanks for the downpour across social media.



While some rain fell across Tasmania on Wednesday, Hobart received its heaviest dump in the early hours of Thursday.

"We had a burst of around 4mm, then not much until around about 3:00am or 4:00am this morning, where we had about 17mm in an hour, quite a bit there," Luke Johnston, from the Bureau of Meteorology, said.

From 9:00am on Wednesday until Thursday morning, Hobart recorded more than 26mm.

And there was more to come, he said, adding some localities might even see hail.

"It has eased back for the moment, as one band of rain moves to the south of us, but there's another band to come, probably a band just as big later this morning."

"We'll see some showers this afternoon, with possible thunderstorms as well, maybe even some hail."

In the south-east, Dunalley recorded 24mm of rainfall from 9:00am Wednesday, while Liawenee, in the Central Plateau, recorded 18mm.

In the Huon Valley, 33mm had fallen at Grove and in the Central Highlands, there was 27mm at Liawenee.

Maydena, near the Gell River blaze, had 17 mm to 9am Thursday morning.



After weeks of intensive efforts to battle fires threatening towns and wilderness areas, the news of the rain arriving was greeted cautiously by 's Darren Gye, who said the downpour could hamper assessment of the situation.

In a statement, the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) said the rainfall overnight had "eased the fire risk to a number of Tasmanian communities".

"Reports from the Great Pine Tier, Riveaux Road, Gell River and Brittons Swamp fires indicate rain has fallen on all these fires.

"Extensive rain bands also appear to have passed over areas of the south-west affected by fire."



The TFS said the rain forecast for today was "expected to assist fire crews to black out hotspots and extinguish fire edges along many containment lines".



"TFS and partner agencies will spend today reassessing the risk posed by the fires, however it may take some days before the full impact of this rain event can be assessed properly.

"Low cloud may make flying difficult in some areas and the rain may make some fire containment lines unsafe or hard to access by vehicle or on-foot."

The TFS cautioned people planning on returning to their property to take steps to assure the safety of themselves and their families.

"Trees on your property impacted by fire may be unsafe and water tanks may have been contaminated by ash, dead animals or firefighting foams and retardants."

On social media, the sound of rain on the roof was greeted with joy — with a reminder for people to unblock their drainpipes, advice given during the bushfire threat to keep them filled with water.



'Music to my ears!'

On a community page for the , Sally posted a thank you to the firefighters.



"The sweetest sound for Huon Valley residents. I realise there's people in this massive country of ours that just wish the rain would stop, and fair enough too!" she wrote.

"But for us this long, steady, heavy downpour is bliss and such an incredible relief.

"I hope there's a lot of firefighters who are sleeping deeply tonight knowing the rains have finally come. You should all feel so proud of the massive effort, and success in saving so many towns and people," Sally wrote on the Facebook page.

"Thank you, hopefully you can finally have a rest now."

In Geeveston, a town in Tasmania's south-east which had bushfires near its outskirts, the rains were celebrated.

"Holy! That's some heavy heavy rain in Geeveston! Music to my ears. Good riddance, fires!" Rebecca posted on Facebook.

"A beautiful sound here in Woodbridge," wrote Lee. "Laying back in bed and the raindrops falling steadily on our roof surely is a blessing."


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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