STRONG unpredictable wind gusts kept Winkleigh residents on tenterhooks as the Holwell-Flowery Gully bushfire burned perilously close yesterday.
The 10-hectare grass fire sparked up about 10 kilometres west of Exeter after power wires fell down.
About 2pm the Tasmanian Fire Service issued an emergency warning for the fire, which burned out of control among a blue-gum plantation _ part of the Gunns MIS scheme.
Two helicopters water-bombed the fire which risked jumping Nettlefolds Road and into bushland that stretched to the Rubicon River.
Winkleigh landowner Stephen Buckland kept a close eye on the fire while residents closer to the flames were evacuated by firefighters before being allowed to return.
``I think they are getting on top of it, it's just going to be hard to put it completely out because it's so inaccessible,'' he said.
``They are doing a good job, she's a worry but not as much as before.''
Mr Buckland had shifted his livestock to safer pastures and offered up his dam to the thirsty choppers.
Others donated bulldozers for firefighters to containment lines in the dense bushland.
The bushfire was downgraded to a mid-level warning but occasional flare-ups kept emergency crews on alert.
Embers, smoke and ash fell around communities surrounding Stewarts Road, Holwell Road, Nettlefolds Road and Flowery Gully Road.