Arsonists 'put lives at risk'

THE Tasmania Fire Service has called on Launceston arsonists to desist as fire danger ratings soar.

The service has ordered a statewide total fire ban today with the fire danger  rating hitting ``severe'' in parts of the state.

Yesterday firefighters were busy battling what's believed to be the second deliberately lit fire in Mayfield this week.

``They do put people's lives at risk and if they really thought it through I'd doubt they'd do it,'' acting Deputy Regional Chief North John Hazelwood said of the fire bugs. 

 ``As fire conditions worsen they'll be even harder to control.''

A deliberately lit scrub fire came within 50 metres of homes in Mayfield last Tuesday. 

Yesterday's fire, which took seven crews and two helicopters to control, occurred in the same place near train lines.

Another fire at Blackwood Creek near Cressy was also thought to be deliberately lit yesterday. 

The blaze broke out in a pine plantation with fire crews requiring air support from a helicopter.

Officer Hazelwood said the fires were a drag on resources at the peak of bushfire season. 

``We will experience very high fire danger (today) especially in the Midlands, Fingal area, also the coastal areas will be of concern,'' he said. 

``It will come right through to Launceston as well.

Overall he said public response to the first bushfire season since the catastrophic Tasmanian bushfires last summer had been good. 

However, unattended campfires were still a problem.

``A bit of wind and it could be very negative for us,'' he said.

A cooler change is expected tomorrow evening but a lack of rain means the next few days will remain dangerous. 

``Historically our worst conditions are around February,'' Chief Officer Mike Brown said yesterday.

``Many Tasmanians will recall the tragic Black Tuesday bushfire of February 7, 1967, when 62 people lost their lives.''

Mr Brown called on the public to be vigilant and for people in rural areas to review and practise bushfire survival plans.

The plan along with community protection plans are available at www.fire.tas.gov.au.

It is illegal to light fires outdoor during total bans. It is also an offence to use machinery which may spark or have heated machine parts such as engines come in to contact with dry vegetation. 

People should monitor the ABC or visit the service's website for updates.

Tasmania Police will increase patrols for today's ban. 

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