Australia — TASMANIA’S fire chief says pre-emptive strategies put in place after the 2009 Victorian bushfires meant strike teams, aircraft and earthmoving machinery were ready to fight the first major fires of the season.
Tasmanian Fire Service chief Mike Brown yesterday praised the efforts of the local brigades who continued to fight the blaze at Musselroe Bay.
About 40 people evacuated homes on Sunday night and the fire continued to pose a threat to the township yesterday.
“Their performance has been just fantastic,” Mr Brown said.
“Many are volunteers and they worked in very hot and windy conditions and did a great job.”
The Musselroe Bay, Poatina and Central Plateau fires which are still burning gave Tasmanians their first taste of bushfire season 2012-2013.
Mr Brown expects more dangerous fires will need to be fought over the summer.
“Last weekend was a shake down which affirmed the measures we have in place,” Mr Brown said.
“Since the Victorian fires there has been more emphasis on planning .”
The strategies put in place by the TFS include having pre-determined strike teams ready to respond to bushfires, aircraft at the ready and earthmoving equipment on standby.
“We used a dozen bulldozers across the state at the weekend,” Mr Brown said.
“There is less of this equipment about because of downturn in the forest industry but we are now pre-planning and had the machines at the ready.”
Mr Brown urged all Tasmanians to get a copy of the Bushfire Survival Plan from the TFS website.
“I think Tasmanians are becoming more bushfire aware,” he said.
“We have had two relatively quiet bushfire seasons in a row, but this year is looking to be more typical.”
Crew numbers were increased at Musselroe yesterday in expectation of increasing wind strengths and Aurora crews were on site to manage threats to power infrastructure.
Four other bushfires at Mathinna, Bruny Island, on the Central Plateau and at Bridgewater also kept firefighters busy. Another 18 fires were being patrolled after being contained.
Helicopter water bombing continued in a bid to control the Poatina Rd fire as it spread towards the Western Tiers.
A Bureau of Meteorology report shows this spring was dry, warm and windy the right lead-up conditions for fires.
“There is also a lot of fuel about,” Mr Brown said. The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.