For­est blaze ‘a real wake-up’

Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page - PENNY MCLEOD

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.

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