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Bushfires take toll on Tassie wilderness

Hobart [AAP]

Almost two per cent of Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness Area has been destroyed by bushfire, authorities say.

Crews are still playing catch-up to contain scores of blazes which were started more than a fortnight ago by dry lightning strikes, with Tasmania Fire Service deputy chief Jeremy Smith on Monday saying new outbreaks are still being found.

But special attention is being given to the state’s protected areas as weather conditions ease.

‘We have been able to map a number of these areas around the state and we’ve calculated at present it’s approximately 1.9 per cent of the world heritage area,’ Mr Smith said.

Clearing cloud cover meant aircraft have been able to conduct flyovers to direct specialist ground crews to investigate hot spots.

‘As we move through the fire ground we’re making sure that the fire hasn’t got the opportunity to run,’ Mr Smith added.

The heritage-listed area covers some 1.5 million hectares which equals about a fifth of the island state.

‘It has been a shame that a number of areas within the state have been damaged by fire, however it’s only a small percentage in some of the pristine areas,’ Mr Smith said.

‘Obviously we want to make sure that any further damage is limited and that’s what we’re actively pursuing.’

In addition to firefighters, including personnel on loan from interstate and New Zealand, there are 175 specialists working on the fire ground, some digging through peat to uncover and extinguish smouldering earth.

Aircraft on Monday afternoon identified two more remote blazes but Mr Smith said generally the outlook is positive.

‘We believe we’ve got seven to 10 days of really good firefighting weather … allowing us to get a good solid edge around a number of these fires, identifying where these fires are and also ensure we are protecting the valuable assets around the state,’ Mr Smith said.

But the senior officer said it will take prolonged substantial rain to ensure all the fires are out.

 


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