Conditions ease in fire fight

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 07 Maret 2013 | 19.55

Fire crews worked overnight to save houses from the blaze near Risdon Vale.

FIREFIGHTERS using water bombers and bulldozers are working for the second day to contain a fire burning in rugged bushland near the Hobart suburb of Risdon Vale.

Milder weather conditions and light winds have aided in the firefighting effort and no properties are currently believed to be under threat.

The fire is still uncontrolled with 30 vehicles involved in fighting the blaze.

Tasmania Police issued a statement today, saying investigations had found the fire was not deliberately lit.

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Heavy bulldozers were this morning cutting containment lines around the fire through gullies and along ridgelines near Downhams Rd to the east of Risdon Vale.

Additional work was being done at the end of Flagstaff Gully Rd, in Warrane.

Firefighters said they would conduct backburning operations this afternoon ahead of an anticipated wind change which is hoped to push the fire back on itself.

Station officer Colin Attrill said residents needed to be alert to changing conditions and monitor the Tasmania Fire Service website for information.

Heavy smoke has blanketed the valley above and around Risdon Vale today, mixing with the sound of water bombers ferrying water from reservoirs to the firefront.

Residents were on high alert this morning in case the fire flared up again today.

The TFS said crews saved at least two homes when the blaze came perilously close to properties in Downhams Rd and Kings Rd yesterday.

More than 20 teams and four water-bombing helicopters fought to control the blaze, which began about 2pm in Downhams Rd and burnt 200ha as the temperature climbed to 35C in Hobart. Choppers were hindered by powerlines, prompting a call to Transend, which switched off electricity to 17,000 premises as far away as Coles Bay, Oatlands and the Tasman Peninsula.

Power was out for more than two hours because of the danger.

For power outage information, visit Aurora's website

Firefighters worked in rough terrain in Risdon Vale and to its east in dry conditions.

TFS senior station officer Phil Douglas said the fire was expected to ease in milder conditions overnight but was likely to pick up again.

"The fire is not controlled [but] the rate of spread should be minimal overnight," he said.

"We're asking people, particularly in the Downhams Rd and Kings Rd to monitor the area.

"We're asking residents to monitor our website."

The TFS did not tell people to evacuate but people without a bushfire plan, or those whose plan was to leave, were advised to consider leaving if conditions worsened and the path clear.

Embers, smoke and ash were predicted to fall on Kings Rd, Dulcot and Richmond overnight.

Downhams Rd was closed last night and remains closed to the general public today. Residents, however, will be allowed through.

Smoke is expected to continue to affect roads early today.

The Asthma Foundation of Tasmania advised people with respiratory illness to protect themselves against smoke and to call 000 in an emergency.

Meanwhile, crews were busy putting out smaller fires around the state and patrolling others that started weeks ago.

The giant blaze in the South-West, first reported on January 3, has covered more than 45,000 ha.

Get the latest fire info on the TFS website.

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