Tasmania's bushfires downgraded

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 isolated overnight.

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 coming days.

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 Tasman Peninsula.

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 Sands.

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 were lost.

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