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Over the coming weeks, a number of roads inside of fire impacted areas will reopen.More

PWS Fire Update - Friday 22 February 2019


To date, the fire area has affected around 94,000 ha (about 6%) of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) and approximately 42,476 ha (about 3.4%) of other reserves managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service.More

Gell River Fire Update


A fire is burning within the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Parks, to the north and east of Lake Rhona. The fire was ignited by a lightning storm that crossed the state on the evening of 27 December 2018.

The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) responded to the lightning event by sending a spotter flight over the affected area, where two fires in the proximity of the Gell River were identified (Gell River fire and Battlement Hills fire, which later merged). 15 staff were mobilised and an Incident Management Centre was established at Strathgordon.

Two helicopters were sent to relocate bushwalkers from the affected area and walking tracks were closed. An initial eight firefighters were then mobilised onto the fire ground.

Current situation

The fire has so far burnt approximately 15,000 ha and is burning largely buttongrass, in steep and rugged terrain. The northerly wind change that came through on Thursday night has pushed the fire into the Vale of Rasselas, and continues to burn in a southerly direction.

Currently the fire is burning out of control and is expected to expand significantly over the course of the day. A watch and act alert has been issued for the Maydena area.

There are a number of fire-sensitive World Heritage Values present in the area, including the alpine plateau above Lake Rhona and areas of mixed forest and temperate rainforest. Specific World Heritage Values at risk from the fire include pencil pines, king billy pines, peat soils and cushion plants.

PWS is working hard to contain the fire and minimise the damage to these fire-sensitive communities and the potential for damage to critical civil infrastructure.

New methods of fire suppression are being trialled, including the use of aerial applied, long-term retardant, which was used on Thursday in an attempt to establish a fire break. Additional methods being trialled include sprinkler systems, which have been established around the high value, fire-sensitive assets (rainforest and alpine) in the Lake Rhona area. Firefighters on the ground are also being aided by the use of foam suppressants.

The use of firefighting suppressants and retardants in the World Heritage Area has been recently examined and the potential impacts assessed. As a result, guidelines for application of these products within the World Heritage Area have been developed, with any potential impact from the chemicals weighed up against the potential threat from the fire.

With the current fire behaviour and the fire weather forecast it will not be safe to have large numbers of firefighters on the ground attempting direct attack of this fire.

The State Government has not hesitated in supporting the use of the best available technology in remote area firefighting through the utilisation of large air tankers and retardant. This investment is being made as part of the effort to protect the Outstanding Universal Values within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and important civil infrastructure.

There are currently 37 personnel and six helicopters allocated to fighting the fire.

For the latest bushfire information, go to the TFS website at www.fire.tas.gov.au.

Gell River Fire Update

Sprinkler line being installed by PWS, one of the new methods of fire suppression being trailled around high value, fire sensitive assets.