Forest fires raze ski lodge in Australia

Forest fires raze ski lodge in Australia

12 December 2006

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Australia — Forest fires in Australia’s south-east corner razed a ski lodgein Victoria’s alpine country Tuesday and put residents to flight on the islandof Tasmania.

The loss of the Mount Buffalo lodge follows the incineration of at least 18houses in the Tasmanian coastal town of Scamander.

Parks Victoria chief executive Mark Stones said the Cresta Lodge was thelatest loss in a fire that has burned out 280,000 hectares in the past two weeksand which has a fire front of 250 kilometres.

‘We’ve got crews up their trying to protect the chalets,’ Stones said. ‘Weare working hard to prevent any further asset loss.’

Milder weather in Victoria has been a boon to the 3,000 firefighters workingto contain a massive blaze that authorities say could burn for weeks andeventually blacken 600,000 hectares.

On Tasmania’s east coast, in the town of Scamander, authorities who confirmed18 houses had been lost warned that more damage could be revealed when roads arereopened. Pattie O’Donnell, a resident in nearby St Marys, said she had beenurged by the fire brigade to make a quick decision on whether to leave herproperty or stay and defend it from the advancing flames.

‘We’ve got the cars ready and things in bags so if the fire comes through wejust take off,’ O’Donnell told national broadcaster ABC.

Forest fires sparked by lightning strikes or arsonists are the lot of manyrural families during the southern hemisphere summer.

Four years ago seven people were killed, 500 houses razed and 3 millionhectares of forest lost – an area three times the size of Britain.

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