After dangerous fire conditions in late January eased into rain and cooler temperatures this week, fire crews battling some blazes still burning across the state are facing a new challenge: heavy frost, sleet and snow.
Tasmania Fire Service, Parks and Wildlife, and Sustainable Timber Tasmania crews – with others still assisting from across the country – continued the “long and arduous” task of extinguishing the fires still active in the state on Sunday, now having burned more than 205,000 hectares.
Though the recent rain had helped with efforts to extinguish hotspots, strengthen containment lines and reduce – but not eliminate – fire activity, it had “actually served to hamper” on-the-ground work in remote areas, according to TFS operations manager Alex Bradley.
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“We’re conscious of the safety of some of our crews, a lot of our crews are working above 1000 metres above sea level,” Mr Bradley told media on Sunday afternoon.
“The conditions we’re seeing are heavy frost, sleet and snow forecast for the next few days.”
“Access to the fireground is remote so the insertion of these crews aerially is proving quite difficult when these conditions come in,” he added, referring particularly to the Great Pine Tier fire in the Central Highlands.
The wet weather was also helping to disguise and hide hotspots being targeted by crews with thermal imaging equipment, which may pose a risk when stronger winds and warmers temperatures return.
With a number of roads now reopened and some people wishing to see the effects the fire have had on the landscape, TFS has urged drivers to take care, drive to the conditions and not block roads and shoulders.
In a further blow to firefighting efforts in the Central Highlands, Tasmania Police are investigating the “disappointing” theft of 350 litres of diesel fuel from an excavator in the Victoria Valley.
The theft is believed to have taken place between the evenings of Friday, February 8 and Saturday, February 9 on Bashan Road, TFS said in a statement Sunday.
Anyone with information on the matter is asked to contact Tasmania Police.
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