A pilot has been rescued after his helicopter crashed while
fighting a bushfire in Tasmania, where emergency bushfire
warnings have been downgraded.
Strong wind gusts earlier fanned a fire burning at Molesworth
in the Derwent Valley, with the Tasmanian Fire Service (TFS)
issuing an emergency alert for the area, warning residents it
was likely too late to leave and to activate their bushfire
The TFS warned the fire danger rating in Molesworth, in the
state's south, was still very high but had downgraded the
emergency warning to a watch and act alert on Thursday night.
The Molesworth fire terrain has made parts of it inaccessible
to the crews working in the area, with four helicopters being
used as water-bombers.
One of the firefighting pilots, a 52-year-old Hobart man,
crashed into a clearing near the bushfire before being
rescued about 5pm (AEDT).
Police said the man was airlifted to the Royal Hobart
Hospital for assessment and was shaken by the incident but
not seriously hurt.
Two schools in the area, Collinsvale and Molesworth Primary
Schools, will remain closed on Friday.
The TFS said the fire had impacted on Suhrs Road, Fehlbergs
Road, Valley Road and Collins Cap Road to Springdale Road and
may impact on the areas of Myrtle Forest Road and Old
Springdale Road within the next six to 12 hours.
The TFS says there may be embers, smoke and ash falling on
Molesworth, Glenlusk and Collinsvale.
A watch and act alert is also in place for an out-of-control
blaze near Franklin in the Huon Valley, south of Hobart, with
the area on a high fire danger rating.
A watch and act alert had also previously been put in place
for a fire at Lefroy near George Town, in the state's north,
with the area on a low to moderate fire danger rating.
A total fire ban has been declared for the northern and
southern regions of Tasmania for Friday.
The fire ban covers Break O'Day, Dorset Flinders, George
Town, Launceston, Meander Valley, Northern Midlands, West
Tamar, Brighton, Central Highlands, Clarence City, Derwent
Valley, Glamorgan, Spring Bay, Glenorchy, Hobart, Huon
Valley, Kingborough, Sorell, Southern Midlands and Tasman.