Tasmania's major bushfires have been downgraded and a major
highway has been re-opened as interstate crews get set to fly
in to help the fire-fighting effort.
The Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) downgraded a fire at Bicheno
in the state's east to advice level, the third most serious
level for bushfires. It had been at the emergency warning
level earlier on Saturday.
The Tasman Highway was reopened after the downgrade.
The development means there are no more emergency
warning-level bushfires in Tasmania.
Fires at Nubeena, Forcett and Lake Repulse are listed in the
watch and act category by the state fire service.
A crew of 65 Victorian firefighters is preparing to head to
Tasmania on Sunday night for four days.
It is feared that more than a 100 properties have been lost
in the fires.
The Forcett blaze on the Tasman Peninsula, east of Hobart,
has claimed least 80 properties and left thousands of people
Recreational and commercial vessels were used to bring in
thousands of meals and other essential supplies and to
evacuate people on Friday and Saturday.
Police said 600 people, many of them visitors to the area,
were likely to spend a second night at convict ruins. There
were 2000 people at a temporary refuge in Nubeena and another
100 at the Dunalley Hotel.
The road into the peninsula, the Arthur Highway, has been
closed since Friday.
Acting police commissioner Scott Tilyard said he was hopeful
some vehicles could be escorted from the peninsula.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard threw the federal government's
support behind the firefighting and support efforts in
Tasmania and said disaster assistance would start flowing in
Insurers declared the bushfire-hit towns a catastrophe and
police powers were increased when the Tasman Peninsula was
declared a serious-incident site.
Electricity company Aurora said it could take several weeks
to restore power in some areas, with 300 poles down on the
Property losses have been huge, with 30 per cent of the
buildings in the small community of Dunalley destroyed,
including the school and police station.
At Connellys Marsh, 40 per cent of the buildings are gone,
along with three houses at Copping and several at Primrose
Twenty houses have been lost around Murdunna and there are
reports of more at Eaglehawk Neck.
No deaths or serious injuries have been confirmed, despite
conditions comparable to 1967 when 2000 homes and 62 lives