Lefroy bushfire: Residenst evacuated from north Tasmanian town threatened by blaze

Lefroy bushfire: Residents evacuated from north Tasmanian town threatened by blaze

04 March 2015

published by www.abc.net

Australia — The 672-hectare fire is east of Lefroy between Beechford Road and Douglas Road, with emergency services warning the area could quickly become under threat.

The alert was downgraded to a watch and act on Wednesday afternoon, but dozens of residents chose to stay in a designated evacuation centre overnight.

They were warned not to return to their homes until the fire threat had subsided.

The alert was further downgraded to an alert on Wednesday night.

Authorities said the fire was expected to flare up again on Thursday, when winds are expected to pick up again.

The Tasmanian Fire Service said the fire would be difficult to control and burning embers would threaten homes ahead of the main fire.

People with unprepared homes should go to a safer location, but only if the path is clear.

Acting deputy regional fire chief Neil Brookbank said an evacuation centre had been set up at George Town Memorial Hall at Regent Square.

“The residents in and around Lefroy need to … monitor ABC radio and also monitor our Tasmania Fire Service website in case conditions change,” he said.

“Currently the Lefroy township is being impacted by smoke and embers.

“Some residents have chosen to leave the area on their own accord.”

Road closures are listed on the Tasmania Police website.

The blaze broke out in bushland near Musk Vale road on Tuesday night and was fanned by strong winds.

Earlier, police and fire crews were door-knocking the small town of Lefroy, telling residents to prepare to evacuate.

Mr Brookbank said firefighters were doing all they could to contain the blaze.

“Our resources are being deployed to protect assets in and around Lefroy and along the Beechford Road, and we’ve also got helicopters water bombing.”

Extra trucks have arrived from Hobart to reinforce local crews and two air tankers have been placed on standby in Victoria.

Hundreds of homes in the area have lost powers as a result of the blaze.

TasNetworks said the power outages affected 700 homes in Beechford, Lefroy and Pipers River.

Crews were unable to give an estimation of when power would be restored.

Many locals in the path of the fire had already packed and were ready to go, including Vonda Jenkins, who lives near Curries Dam.

“Plans in place, yep, [I’ve] got things packed,” she said.

“Just grabbed a few essentials that I need, and my dogs, mainly, but yeah I’m fine.”

Earlier TFS spokeswoman Linda Robbins said helicopters were water bombing the area.

“The winds are just starting to increase,” she said.

“We’re expecting the winds to increase steadily throughout the afternoon, which is another reason that we need people to make sure they monitor the ABC radio and the TFS website.”

Bulldozers were building containment lines around the fire.

The cause of the blaze is not known.

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