UPDATE: Wilderness bushfires merge into 1500 hectare blaze

UPDATE: Wilderness bushfires merge into 1500 hectare blaze

29 December 2018

Published by https://www.theadvocate.com.au/


The Gell River bushfire has been contained and all walking tracks in the area have been reopened.


Fire crews are still working to contain a bushfire raging in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Two fires broke out around Gell River and Battlement Hills in the remote southwest following dry lightning storms on Thursday evening.

By Friday afternoon, the fires had merged into a 1500 hectare blaze with a 27 kilometre perimetre.

Bushwalkers in the area have been evacuated by aircraft and walking tracks to Lake Rhona, Lake Curly, The Spires, Shining Mountain and the Vale of Rasselas Track have been closed.

The Parks and Wildlife Service has established a level two incident management team at Strathgordon, which includes 15 remote area firefighters.

PWS incident controller John Duggan said fire activity had been reduced by eight to ten millimeters of rain on Friday night.

“The fire danger rating today is forecast to be low,” Mr Duggan said.

“Fire crews supported by air operations will be working to extinguish hot spots and secure the boundary of the fire.”

Mr Duggan said the fire posed “no immediate threat to any assets” or people.

The fires were reported by a spotter flight deployed on December 28.

Fire crews are also battling two smaller fires near Que River Mine and Sharks Fin near the Cradle Mountain turnoff of the Murchison Highway.

EARLIER, 10am:

Fire crews are responding to a string of bushfires in the southwest wilderness and West Coast.

An uncontrolled bushfire spanning 319 hectares is burning at Gell River around the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.

Efforts to contain the blaze may be hampered by the high fire danger rating forecast in the area.

The fire is around nine kilometres northwest of Lake Rhona and has led to the closure of the Vale of Rasselas Track and walking tracks to Lake Rhona, Lake Curly, The Spires and Shining Mountain.


Another uncontrolled fire spanning 135 hectares is burning at Battlement Hills around six kilometres northwest of Lake Rhona.

Embers, smoke and ash may fall on areas south and east of the main fires.

Members of the Parks and Wildlife Service and Sustainable Timbers Tasmania are helping fight the fires with an incident response team at Mt Field.

Meanwhile, two small fires are burning near the Que River Mine and the Cradle Mountain turnoff of the Murchison Highway.

The fires were sparked by lightning strikes and were detected on Friday morning during a routine surveillance flight by Sustainable Timbers Tasmania.

North-West regional manager of the Parks and Wildlife Service Nic Deka said both fires were water bombed by a helicopter after they were detected.

“Both of the fires are quite small at this stage and contained,” he said on Saturday morning.

“They were damped down yesterday and this morning a combined Parks and Wildlife Services and Sustainable Timber Tasmania crew are making their way to the fires on foot to consolidate the suppression action that we undertook yesterday.”


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