State escapes fire deaths: police

TASMANIANS are expected to return to their bushfire-ravaged communities today with no serious injuries or loss of life recorded.

Tasmania Police yesterday confirmed that all missing people had been found, including a Dunalley man who was earlier feared dead.

Acting Police Commissioner Scott Tilyard said he no longer held grave concerns for the safety of anyone caught up in the series of major fires that began on Friday.

However, police were still sorting through a series of inquiries from concerned Australians and people abroad.

``I can't stand here today and say no one has lost their life (but) it's looking less and less likely as each day goes by,'' Mr Tilyard said.

``If that is (found to be) the case it would be extremely fortunate.''

Premier Lara Giddings yesterday announced that former director of public prosecutions Damian Bugg would head the government's bushfire recovery taskforce.

The taskforce would be charged with rebuilding the communities devastated by fire over the next 18 to 24 months.

Ms Giddings said the government would not skimp when it came to funding the taskforce, but could not elaborate.

``We are working through those issues in terms of costings . . . (but) our real concern is for individual people and communities as they go about rebuilding their communities post this traumatic event,'' Ms Giddings said.

``It is inevitable that there will be a budget impact from this fire, but that is not our primary concern.''

Some farmers are already questioning whether adequate fuel reduction burns were carried out in the state.

Ms Giddings yesterday promised that an independent inquiry would be carried out, but not until after the bushfire season.

``The last thing I want to see is valuable resources being focused away from fires and on to inquiries,'' she said.

``What we do know at this stage is that we were facing catastrophic conditions when these fires really took off and did the harm they did to these communities, and at this point in time we don't think fuel reduction burnoffs would have made much difference.''

Meanwhile, Greens leader Nick McKim rejected claims that his party had restricted or prevented fuel reduction burnoffs.


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