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November 12 2012 2 12 /11 /November /2012 06:51

Township faces bushfire threat


A planned controlled burn at a Forcett property sent smoke billowing across the Arthur Highway yesterday. Picture: LIBBY SUTHERLAND


Tas bushfire threat downgraded

A bushfire threatening the Tasmanian township of Zeehan has been downgraded from high risk to low-to-moderate risk.


Tas bushfire brought under control

A PLANNED burn on private land grew into a large bushfire that threatened homes in the West Coast town of Zeehan yesterday.

The 1600ha fire was still burning out of control last night but the township did not have to be evacuated, as had earlier been feared.


Late yesterday afternoon the blaze came within 200m of Mulcahy St, putting about 15 houses at risk.

But two water-bombing helicopters helped more than a dozen fire crews from around the West Coast direct the front away from homes.


Parks and Wildlife Service incident controller Chris Arthur said the fire was lit on private land on Saturday and spread rapidly into surrounding button grass and forest when the weather changed yesterday morning.


Firefighters, including volunteers from Zeehan, Strahan, Rosebery, Queenstown and Ridgley, were on the ground by 11am yesterday and soon afterwards the Tasmania Fire Service issued a warning for residents to prepare to activate their bushfire plans.


Local resident Cheryl Smith nervously watched the smoke and embers from her home all day, but by early evening said the threat appeared to have eased.


"It seems to be under control. The choppers were dumping water all afternoon and the fire brigades from everywhere on the West Coast were there to help out," Ms Smith said.


"The firefighters did a marvellous job, they kept us well informed."


West Coast Mayor Darryl Gerrity also praised the volunteers, who were battling unpredictable winds. He said there appeared to be a lot of misinformation spreading about the fire via Facebook.


"A lot of it is not true and it's scaring people, people need to always rely on the authorised information," Mr Gerrity said.

More than two dozen permits were issued for registered burns around the state yesterday, including one on a private property at Forcett, which sent smoke billowing across the Arthur Highway.

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