Fire-ravaged Tassie eyeing rain reprieve

Australia

Bushfire-fatigued crews and residents in Tasmania are hopeful much-needed rain can temper major blazes that have burned down seven homes.

Cooler conditions are forecast for the next few days, with meteorologists optimistic of falls of 10-20mm statewide on Thursday.

Some of that is forecast to hit bushfire zones, with authorities previously saying they need significant rain to put out four large wildfires.

Despite the promising forecast, residents are being urged not to be complacent, with blazes in the Huon Valley, southwest of Hobart, in the Central Plateau, at Britons Swamp in the northwest, and Gell River in the southwest, still of concern.

Wildfires fuelled by hot and dry winds at the weekend claimed a fourth property in the Huon Valley, it was confirmed on Monday.

Three houses have also been lost in the state’s Central Plateau, with about 194,000 hectares destroyed by the wildfires, some of which started before Christmas.

Firefighters and volunteers are staying at the Great Lake Hotel in the Central Plateau, with pub staff supplying lunches and cooking dinner for hundreds.

“They’re so weary, the looks on their faces. And they won’t give up. They can’t give up. There is no alternative,” owner Kaylee Hattinger said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten brought words of support to hundreds of people sheltering at an evacuation centre in Huonville.

The fires have also burned down a near-century-old trapper’s hut and significantly damaged the popular Tahune Airwalk.

Vast tracts of wilderness in the state’s southwest have been charred.

The Tasmania Fire Service is urging all residents to follow the evacuation requests from firefighters and police after some people ignored doorknocks, forcing crews to return to get them out.

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