Forest blaze ‘a real wake-up’
THE immediate threat posed by an out-of-control bushfire near Gell River, in Tasmania’s South West wilderness, has passed, but affected residents and business owners have been warned to remain cautious.
“This was a real wake-up call and people were reminded to be prepared and have their fire plan ready,” Derwent councillor Rachel Power said.
The fire has so far burnt more than 15,000ha of forest including areas of sensitive world heritage value with pencil pines, King Billy pines and cushion plants.
THE immediate threat posed by an out-of-control bushfire near Gell River in Tasmania’s South West wilderness has passed, but affected residents and business owners have vowed to remain vigilant with no end to the blaze in sight.
“We live in paradise, but that can come at a cost,” said Mt Field Waterfalls Cafe and Gallery owner and Derwent Valley councillor Rachel Power, who attended a community meeting at Maydena Hall yesterday.
“This was a real wake-up call and people were reminded to be prepared and have their fire plan ready.
“The fire is still there, but there’s currently no immediate threat … we can’t see any smoke or smell any smoke today. It’s not a pinch on what it was. People shouldn’t stay away, they just need to be aware anything could happen.”
Maydena Bike Park reopened yesterday after evacuating 100 riders and 15 workers from the site on Friday morning to the town’s safety shelter at the old Maydena Primary School.
“We evacuated when the fire risk increased [on Friday] and we did that within 45 minutes,” said the park’s owner, Simon French. “We reopened [on Saturday morning] on advice from Parks and other agencies that there’s no risk to us. We now have around 100 riders in the park. A lot of these people are interstate riders who had pre-booked.
“We have a couple of thousand acres and emergency access throughout. It’s business as usual. The fire is likely to continue for some weeks so we will be watching it very vigilantly. We will get advice [on the fire] long before the situation changes.”
The fire, which was ignited by a lightning storm that crossed the state on the evening of December 27, is burning within the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, to the north and east of Lake Rhona.
While the Tasmania Fire Service has said there is no threat to communities, the fire remains uncontained. It has so far burnt more than 15,000ha and is burning mostly buttongrass in steep and rugged terrain. Yesterday, 37 personnel and two helicopters were allocated to fighting the fire.
Stay informed in case conditions change by monitoring local ABC radio and the Tasmania Fire Service website — www.fire.tas.gov.au.