State braces for fire weather

FIREFIGHTERS are strengthening containment lines around existing fires in preparation for two days of severe fire weather around the state.

Ten fire trucks patrolled a 120-hectare scrub and grass fire at Epping Forest yesterday in an effort to control the blaze as much as possible before the fire danger index climbs to very high today.

Incident controller Brett Fazackerley said the fire, which had been burning since Monday, was behind containment lines but could escape in the high temperatures and strong winds predicted for today and tomorrow.

``On days that are over 30 degrees with high winds, an ember can come from anywhere,'' Mr Fazackerley said.

``And it takes just one ember to start a fire.''

A total fire ban has been declared in Southern Tasmania and no fire permits are being issued in the North.

Tasmania Fire Service chief Mike Brown said campers should be particularly diligent and make sure any campfires that were burning yesterday were now completely cold.

Mr Brown said the service had stopped issuing fire permits and it was highly likely a total fire ban would be declared for today and tomorrow.

``Now is not the time to start any new fires and members of the public need to make sure any fires lit on their properties over the last week are completely extinguished,'' Mr Brown said.

``Special care must be taken when using machinery that emits sparks, such as mowers, slashers, grinders and other cutting tools, as this type of machinery has the potential to start fires.''

A Northern incident control centre will be set up in Launceston today and tomorrow.

``The idea of setting up a regional fire operation centre and setting up strike teams is to be on the front foot if we do get an incident,'' Mr Fazackerley said.

He said that if conditions were as bad as predicted, a fire could flare up quite quickly.

Tasmanians living in rural areas have been advised to review their fire plan.

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