RESIDENTS of York Town on the West Tamar were told by the Tasmania Fire Service to consider leaving unprepared homes as a deliberately lit fire burned 200 hectares of state forest yesterday.
The fire service last night issued a warning to residents as far away as George Town to be prepared for ember attacks after the fire had spot lit up to 700 metres at its worst during the afternoon.
The fire service advised residents who were well prepared to stay and defend their properties but advised occupants of unprepared homes to consider evacuation.
Incident controller Bob Knox said one home surrounded by bush had come close to being engulfed yesterday.
"At one stage, we had to divert two helicopters to a house where the fire was approaching quite fast," he said.
"There were some nervous building owners in the area but hopefully they won't have quite as many worries when we get a firebreak around there (today)."
Mr Knox said there was no doubt the fire was the result of an arson attack - the second deliberately lit fire in the area in under 18 months.
"It's very disappointing as it is dry and dangerous country," he said.
Mr Knox added in some areas, access to the fire was almost impossible.
"It's quite steep terrain - many of the tracks are overgrown and there are no tracks in some places," he said.
The bushfire was first reported on Asbestos Road at 8:40pm on Saturday, seven kilometres west of York Town.
Mr Knox said crews had held it back to less than 15 hectares until yesterday afternoon when a strong westerly wind quickly fanned flames.
Within three hours, 110 hectares of state forest was lost.
Water bombing helicopters and fire crews worked into the evening to prevent the fire from entering Narawntapu National Park, where it was feared a new fire front could be started.
Lighter winds and cooler temperatures worked in their favour as they protected homes near the fire's eastern front.
Resident David Phillips was one at-risk home owner and was thankful that a firebreak had been cleared around his property a few weeks ago.
He said there hadn't been a fire that ferocious in the past 30 years.
Residents living near Mr Phillips dampened around their own properties and checked on their neighbour - his home was closest to the blaze.
"He's most at risk so we're making sure he's right," neighbour Bruce Jackson said.
As the fire enters its third day, crews will undertake an aerial survey this morning to plan where firebreaks and tracks are to be established.