Tasmania Fire Service warns of 'significant' bushfire risk for weekend ahead

With the bushfire season well and truly upon us, the Tasmania Fire Service and the Bureau of Meteorology have issued a grim forecast for the weekend ahead.

Last week, a bushfire was contained at Strahan, after it spread from Harrison Street to nearby Crown land.

Then, on Tuesday, an emergency bushfire warning was issued for George Town residents, as a blaze threatened homes.  

The bushfire, believed to be deliberately lit, was later downgraded.

In September, the Bushfire and Natural Hazard Cooperative Research Centre released its Southern Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook.

The document revealed that the East Coast, the Derwent Valley and the South-East corner of the state had an “above normal fire potential”, while the rest of the state had “normal fire potential”.

It was a dry year for Tasmania in 2017, with below average rainfalls and soil moisture levels recorded across much of the state.

TFS Northern Regional Chief Jeff Harper said weather conditions in the North and South this weekend posed “a significant risk”.

“TFS will continue to monitor conditions over the next few days and consider implementing a total fire ban if required,” he said.

“I urge people to be aware of what a total fire ban means and ensure they comply with the guidelines.

“A spark from a backyard fire pot or a campfire can easily start a grass fire which spreads out of control within minutes.”

Mr Harper said extra firefighting crews would be on standby this weekend, as well as during other high risk periods.

“Of course, we also have firefighting vehicles and local and nationally contracted aircraft at the ready,” he said.

“We should be able to manage bushfires within our existing resources. 

“We don’t expect to call on interstate resources, but we would never rule that out.”

Mr Harper urged Tasmanians to stay up to date with current fire danger warnings by checking the TFS website and listening to ABC Radio.

A Bureau of Meteorology spokeswoman said the worst fire weather days in Tasmania occurred when a strong cold front approached from the west.

“In these situations, hot and gusty northerly winds from the mainland flow over Tasmania, bringing particularly high fire dangers to parts of Southern and Eastern Tasmania,” the spokeswoman said.

“This year, the outlook is for normal bushfire potential across much of Tasmania, however higher than normal bushfire potential is expected across parts of eastern Tasmania due to very dry conditions.”

Go to the TFS website to access your community’s Bushfire Protection Plan.

This story ‘Significant’ bushfire risk for weekend ahead: Tasmania Fire Service first appeared on The Advocate.