Total fire ban as 32C looms in dry

Total fire ban as 32C looms in dry

19 February 2008

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Tasmania, Australia — Firefighters bracing for a day of severe bushfire danger with a total fire ban in southern Tasmania today.

DAMAGES … A helicopter drops water on the grass fire at Smithton yesterday. The tractor, top right, that is thought to have started the fire, which claimed this car, bottom right. Pictures: Chris KiddFire crews fear the worst as hot, dry and windy weather is forecast, with 32C tipped for Hobart.

It comes after a grass fire threatened homes and a service station at Smithton in the North-West yesterday.

And in the South a savage blaze destroyed a waterfront Lewisham home.

The Tasmania Fire Service declared the ban for southern Tasmania today, with a ban also on sprinklers.

But the threat and an ongoing fire permit period continued across the state.

“Areas in the South-East, Midlands and Derwent Valley are extremely dry and there is clearly potential for serious fires in the hot and windy conditions,” said TFS deputy chief officer Mike Brown.

At Smithton, a tractor set off a vegetation and grass fire that threatened homes and burned out a car.
The TFS had the fire contained last night, with a helicopter dropping river water as part of the effort.

Beverley and Lloyd Kay own a service station on Nelson St that was threatened by the blaze.

They were particularly concerned about a gas tank that was in line of the fire.

“The fire got into the trees up the back of us. It was a bit hairy for a while,” Mrs Kay said. “We were keeping an eye on the gas tank and keeping it wet.”

Fires also were burning at Bell Bay and Pipers River.

On Lewisham Scenic Drive, a house fire yesterday afternoon destroyed a waterfront cedar home.

Lewisham Service Centre owner Michael Gay said he spotted the smoke and, as he and his son walked towards it, it quickly intensified.

“There was thick smoke either side of the roof,” he said.

“I went one side, my boy the other side and we grabbed hoses, but we couldn’t do anything about it.”

He also turned off gas bottles and wrenched them from the house.

Nobody was injured. The cause will be investigated.

Under the bans, no fires are allowed in the open until midnight in the 62 telephone area.

Water sprinklers must not be used in Brighton, Clarence, Derwent Valley, Glamorgan Spring Bay, Glenorchy, Hobart, Kingborough, Sorell and Southern Midlands council areas to ensure supplies for fighting fires.

Hobart Water off-peak irrigation customers are prohibited from using water during fire bans.

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