People told to leave as Tas bushfire rages

Australia

Tasmanians are bracing for a morning of severe fire risk, with residents in south and central parts of the state being told to leave their homes.

The hazard is set to peak from 5am on Friday, with temperatures in the high 30s and wind gusts of up to 90km/h likely to fan dozens of fires already burning across the state.

Eight new fires started on Thursday, adding to 50 others across the state, with two-thirds considered uncontained. Some 64,000 hectares of land has been burned.

“The best thing people can do in these conditions is leave early,” the Tasmania Fire Service warned on Thursday.

“A fire under the expected conditions can move very quickly with the potential for embers starting fires up to 20km ahead.

“Even those whose homes are well prepared to defend against fire will find their property is not defendable in these conditions.”

Adding to the challenge for fire crews on Friday, forecast winds mean water-bombing aircraft will be grounded.

Ground crews will be stepped up to try and cover the loss of aircraft but efforts will be prioritised in terms of human safety and property defence.

Several fires have the potential to threaten communities. A blaze at central Great Pine Tier could bear down on Shannon, Waddamana, Hilltop and Penstock Lagoon and the Gell River fire southwest of Hobart – which has been burning since December 28 – could reach Geeveston.

One house has been lost near central Miena, while residents remain on alert at Barren Tier, Zeehan, Rosebery, Lynch Hill, Tods Corner, Penstock Lagoon, Tahune Airwalk and Liawenee.

A state-wide fire ban is in place until Monday.

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