Tasmania, Australia — A fire front is this morning bearing down on theTasmanian east coast town of St Marys.
Residents are on alert with the large bushfire now only afew kilometres away.
It is the same blaze that destroyed more than a dozenhomes at Scamander on Monday night.
St Marys’ residents were told yesterday to choose betweendefending their homes or leaving the area.
Many have said they will stay with their homes for aslong as possible.
But at least 30 families or around 50 people have leftthe town to stay with nearby friends and family.
Firefighters have been helped by cooler conditions butspokesman Steve Lowe says winds have pushed the fire further towards St Marys.
“Not into the township proper. Nothing like weexperienced that ran into Scamander of course, but yes it came down towards thetownship,” he said.
“They were smoked out yesterday afternoon late intothe evening and some embers dropped into the town but as far as any furtherstructural losses we’ve had nothing reported to us.”
St Marys shop owner Mark Carrick says the night wasrelatively calm, but there is still a sense the danger may return today.
“Pretty quiet really, it’s quite hazy at the momentand there’s no wind so we’re hoping for the best anyway,” he said.
Break O’Day Mayor Robert Legge says St Marys residentsare hoping last night’s conditions will hold today.
“I think at the moment it’s calm so they might havea possibility of containing it today, weather conditions will be the tellingfactor,” he said.
Aurora Energy will today begin the huge job of restoringpower to homes across the fire zone.
More than 600 homes in Scamander, South Beaumaris,Falmouth and South Sister Hills are without power.
About 20 crews have arrived for a briefing in St Marys.
Aurora’s Lorri Clarke says some emergency measures havebeen taken to assist the firefighters.
“We were able to bring in one of our generators tosupply power to the Scamander Hotel which I believe is currently the basis forfirefighters, providing food and accommodation for them,” she said.
There is anger in the Scamander area about reports oflooting after the Monday night fire.
Locals say police escorted people from the area .
Resident Ted Thornley says the news has upset the locals.
“It’s just madness. If any of the locals here sawsomeone looting the place I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes. There’s a lot ofanger for that sort of behaviour.”
Meanwhile the bushfire near Bream Creek in the south-eastis burning on the northern sector through steep and difficult terrain on allboundaries.
Fire crews are working to patrol and mop up the southernand eastern edges of the fire and contain the northern and western edges.
Property owners in the Cockle Bay and Earlham Road areashave been advised to be bushfire alert.
The Wielangta Road will remain closed until furthernotice.
The fire has burnt out about 8,000 hectares of bush.
The Prime Minister has paid tribute to the ruralfirefighters battling blazes around the country.
John Howard will visit fire affected communities inVictoria and Tasmania today.
Mr Howard says he is concerned at the intensity of thefires so early in the season and wants to offer support to those affected.
“The bushfires are serious and they have caused suchtrauma in local communities I think the very least I can do is visit them and inthat small way on behalf of the rest of the Australian community express supportand understanding, and sympathy for the plight that they are experiencing,”he said.