Camping family escapes Southern blaze

A LAUNCESTON family has made a lucky escape from a bushfire burning out of control in the Southern Midlands.

Tim Gleeson was having lunch at a cafe in Richmond when he saw smoke from an out of control bushfire heading towards the town.

The fire started between Middle Tea Tree Road and Coleman Road about 2pm yesterday and burnt south-east towards the Richmond Cabin and Tourist Park.

``It just so happened that one of the guys who was there sitting and talking to us was a volunteer firefighter, and I asked, `do you think we should move our caravan?' '' Mr Gleeson said.

``And he said that it might be a good idea.''

Mr Gleeson said the fire front was about 3 kilometres wide and burning down a hill just a kilometre from the caravan park when he arrived and speedily packed up.

``I just threw things inside and then went to see if anybody else needed help,'' he said.

``The inside of the caravan is going to be a bit of a schemozzle when I look inside it.''

Firefighters, police and the State Emergency Service were at the park to help campers evacuate.

Mr Gleeson, his partner and her three children are holidaying in the town and hoped to return to the caravan park last night.

They praised the actions of emergency services and caravan park managers in making sure everyone had moved to safety.

Manager John Coleman said fire crews had dug a trench and filled it with water between the fire and the caravan park, and campers had been moved to a safer area 500 metres away.

Mr Coleman said a mid-afternoon wind change provided temporary relief but by early evening the fire had swung back toward the park.

Richmond was placed on an emergency alert yesterday afternoon and residents advised to move to a safer place.

The threat to the town was downgraded overnight but residents on Middle Tea Tree Road were told to remain on alert for falling embers, spot fires, ash and smoke.

The road was closed last night.

Ten fire tankers and two water bombers fought to contain the fire.

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