West Coast fires intensify, yet threat to inhabited areas remain minimal

FIRES burning on the West Coast have spread overnight due to northerly winds, yet threats to inhabited areas are still minimal, Incident Controller Shane Breen of Parks and Wildlife said.

TFS press conference on the multiple fires across the North-West. Shane Breen, from Parks and Wildlife and Stephen Lowe from the Tasmanian Fire Service. PICTURE: Brodie Weeding.

There are currently 70 crews and six aircraft operating around the West Coast battling fires.

Despite the general spread of fires, Mr Breen said that “conditions are favourable” with no significant increase in wind speed or temperature.

“We are seeing a cooler southerly change, but is looking that things are fairly favourable for us with those priority fires in terms of containment,” he said.

Mr Breen said that the closest inhabited areas that were potentially at risk were the ”shack areas” of Ocean Beach, Strahan.

In addition to the new fire at Ocean Beach, significant fires are being attended to at Smithton, Pipeline Road in Mawbanna, Dempster Plains near Balfour, Heemskirk Road in Zeehan and Watsons Creek, Zeehan.

Rod Sherrin, Tasmanian Fire Service Incident Controller said battling West Coast fires would be a ”matter of weeks” rather than days, which could make resourcing volunteers difficult.

Mr Sherrin said that support could be sought from the East Coast and Southern Region, however interstate support would be unlikely.

Mr Sherrin said that the varied natureof terrain affected poses a challenge for resourcing.

”Some areas have long buttongrass and can be accessed and others have steep terrain,” he said.

The Ocean Beach fire at Strahan is burning about threekilometres from the Wildside Mountain Bike event.

A number of smaller fires burning in remote areas cannot be attended to due to issues of access.

According to Mr Sherrin, the larger fires are all accessible by ground crews and bulldozers.

The bushfire in the Dove River Conservation Area at Cradle Mountain is currently eight hectares in size.

The Dove Canyon Track and Cradle Valley Boardwalk are closed.

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