Firefighter dies, observatory damaged

Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings has sent her condolences to the family of a Victorian man who died while fighting bushfires on the island state.

The Gippsland-based firefighter, aged in his 60s, died yesterday while conducting backburning operations at Taranna, east of Hobart.

Police say there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

The man was one of more than 70 Victorian emergency services workers sent to Tasmania to help fight the state's devastating fires, which have destroyed more than 130 homes since January 4.

Ms Giddings issued a statement late yesterday sending the state's thoughts to the man's family.

"On behalf of all Tasmanians, I express my deepest condolences to this brave Victorian's loved ones," she said.

"I hope that his family can gain some comfort from the sincere gratitude we feel for his willingness to assist us during this bushfire crisis.

"I thank them, and our thoughts are with them at this most tragic of times."

Tasmanian Emergency Services Minister David O'Byrne said victims and the man's colleagues would grieve at the loss.

Meanwhile, firefighters are hoping to assess what damage a "large and dangerous" bushfire has had on a world-leading observatory in northern NSW this morning.

But they believe the main telescope has survived.

Staff from the Siding Spring Observatory in Warrumbungle National Park were evacuated on Sunday to nearby Coonabarabran due to the blaze, which also destroyed at least two properties.

A watch-and-act remains in place for the fire, which has burnt through more than 32,000 hectares of bush, scrub and grass.

Overnight the RFS, which has described it as a "large and dangerous bushfire" have been focusing on fighting the blaze.

But RFS spokeswoman Laura Ryan said they are expecting to be able to go into the site on Monday morning to access the damage.

"We have got reports that the main telescope has survived but whether it has been damaged is not confirmed," she told AAP.

"As the sun comes up we are hoping to get a clearer view."

More than 65 firefighters and 17 trucks were on site in the early hours, with more expected to arrive throughout Monday.

Meanwhile, more than 110 people have been evacuated to Tattersalls Hotel at nearby Baradine, as the RFS warns people not to return home.

Ms Ryan said the RFS could not give any indication at the moment as to when it might be safe to do so.

"It's another reminder that fires can strike quickly and can be incredibly dangerous and damaging," Ms Ryan said.

Across the state, however, firefighters are expecting some reprieve with milder weather conditions forecast and winds tending to the south.

There are no total fire bans across the state, with fire dangers listed as moderate and high throughout southern NSW and along the coast, with very high fire danger in the north-west.

About 170 blazes are burning through bush, scrub and grass with about 50 of those out of control.

Light rains have been experienced overnight at the fires in Yarrabin near Cooma and Deans Gap in Shoalhaven, which have together burned through more than 20,000 hectares.

While the drizzle slightly hampered hazard reduction it also offered firefighters some relief, Ms Ryan said.

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