7 Jan 2013

Tasmanian bushfires flare again

11:12 pm on 7 January 2013

Tasmania's bushfire crisis has taken a turn for the worse, with a fresh emergency declared in the state's far north-west.

A fire at Montumana is now listed as an emergency, while a blaze at Bicheno, on the east coast is again causing anxiety, the BBC reports.

Up to 2000 locals and tourists are trapped on the Tasman Peninsula as roads to the area remain cut. The peninsula is without power, with about 300 electricity poles destroyed by the fires and it will be at least a week before it is restored.

A makeshift fleet of 12 boats transported urgently-needed supplies to the thousands of people still stranded because the Arthur Highway to the Tasman Peninsula is closed because of the fallen power lines.

Nearly 100 people were initially feared missing in the island's, but so far most people have turned up and no deaths have yet been recorded, police say.

More than 100 properties have been since the fires broke out in extreme heat on Friday.

Dozens of bushfires continue to burn on the Tasman Peninsula. Firefighters are still battling blazes at Forcett and Lake Repulse, and the Tasmanian Fire Service says blazes are also threatening the peninsula's waterside town of Taranna.

Tasmanian police say they will charge a man for leaving a campfire unattended in the Upper Derwent Valley: it is alleged to have started the wildfire at Lake Repulse which has so far burnt more than 10,000 hectares.

Police say the 31-year-old man from New Norfolk left a campfire unattended at Repulse Dam on Thursday, and he will be charged under the Fire Service Act.

Brad Markham a former Radio New Zealand journalist now working for the ABC in Hobart, told Summer Report that people stranded on the peninsula have no access to telephone or internet, and therefore can't let their family members know they are okay.

"A lot of people at evacuations centres in Hobart do now have phone access, but say they've been unable to get in touch with their relatives."

Publican describes terrifying fires

Dunalley Hotel publican Bill Kidd says has never seen fires like those which ravaged his town on Friday.

Mr Kidd told Summer Report the blazes were terrifying, and he could do nothing but watch the neighbourhood burn to the ground.

"I've seen fires that I've never seen like that. The wind was that strong, it wasn't funny.

"It scared a lot of people, a lot of them hopped into the water so they didn't get burnt. They stood there watching because they didn't want to leave the town ... we couldn't do nothing."

Mr Kidd says his hotel is hosting about 100 people who need food, clothing and shelter after the fires tore through the town