Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The thin yellow line.
STRUGGLE: Worried residents watch as firefighters
battle flames away from their house on the edge of
From Tasmania's 'Mercury' newspaper, an uncredited photo taken in Scamander sums the situation up.
People prepare their homes, making them as fire-resistant as possible. Then, you do as one resident describes: A little way into St Marys Pass -- still closed even to fire trucks because of burning trees and power poles -- Linda Watts did not know where the fire was.
She had her three children ready to "grab the clothes, grab the dogs and get into the car".
The paper reports an awful lot of damage for a town of around 600 people:
Firefighters estimated Scamander's losses at 13 homes, an art gallery, a jewellery business, an electrical business, 24 large workshops, a caravan and a wrecking yard including 70 vehicles.
About 120 personnel were fighting the fire in rotation around the clock late yesterday, aided by 40 trucks, four bulldozers and four helicopters.
Meanwhile, a fire burning for the past 10 days on the lower East Coast also remains out of control.
The blaze at Kellevie, near Bream Creek, has burned 8000ha and remains a threat to homes.
About 90 firefighters, six bulldozers and three helicopters are battling the blaze.
Residents of Nugent, Twamley and Wielangta were last night advised to remain vigilant in preparation for today's weather conditions.
At least another 18 fires were also burning around the state late yesterday, affecting other East Coast locations.
The Tasmania Fire Service warned that northeasterly winds up to 50km/h would increase fire activity through the night, encouraging what has become the state's worst fire in 25 years.
By 2pm the man in charge of defending St Marys, division commander Andrew Skelly, was sure of the fire's threat.
"It is going to get hairy," he said. "It's going to happen sooner or later, whether it's this afternoon or tomorrow.
"We are going to have a fire of biblical proportions."
Dire weather predictions expected.