George Town bushfire fought by volunteers from across the North-East and the Launceston career crew

deliberately-lit bushfire at George Town came within 10 metres of homes and the town’s cemetery on Tuesday afternoon.

At one stage, the fire was classed as “catastrophic”, and residents were evacuated.

No buildings or lives were lost due to the quick thinking and hard work of volunteer and career firefighters from across the North, George Town Fire Brigade chief Andrew Taylor said.

The blaze began at 2pm near the council-owned dog park off Marguerite Street and some “organic matter other than the scrub” was used to light the fire.

As winds whipped the blaze into a fast-running grassfire about 3pm, Mr Taylor said it was "tough going" for the ground crews.

"With 20 to 30 knot winds (37km/h to 55km/h), those guys could only go off the edges and try to pinch it off at the head," he said.

Mr Taylor said he immediately requested aerial support. Four helicopters joined the battle.

"Without aerial support we would've been in a world of hurt," he said. "But by the same token, the crews on the ground have done an absolutely amazing job.”

He said crews had the fire “pretty much knocked down” by about 6.30pm.

Volunteer brigades attended from across the North-East including George Town, Pipers River, Hillwood, Weymouth, Legana, and Westbury. They were supported by the career crew from Launceston.

Mr Taylor said the volunteer crews that initially attended went into “protection mode”, where they were making sure property and people were protected, before starting “active fire fighting”, as per their training.

About 20 fire units were utilised on the ground and and heavy machinery was brought in to assist with cutting tracks and building containment lines.


Tasmania Police Inspector Michael Johnston said the process for the rest of Tuesday evening would be for crews to begin the mop up.

It was touch-and-go when the wind helped the fire across a road, he said.

“At one stage the fire took a really quick run across George Street, towards Mount George, and there [were houses in danger],” Inspector Johnston said.

It was at George, Harold and William streets that the fire came as close as 10 metres to homes.

George Town mayor Bridget Archer praised the quick response of emergency services.

“They've managed to establish some control back pretty quickly despite some pretty unfriendly weather conditions,” Cr Archer said.

Cr Archer said the “clear and quick” communication from the emergency services to the community was appreciated.

“Considering the potential impact of this type of fire there's really been minimal property damage, thanks to the quick work of emergency services,” she said.

A power pole near the town's sportsground, where the fire is believed to have started, appeared to be the only casualty.

Resident Tony Thorpe, whose property was threatened, said a similar fire hit the area two years ago.