04 January 2010

Northern TAS

A serious fire is burning in northern TAS tonight in a state forest near Asbestos Road in the vicinity of York Town. The fire remains out of control at this time. No houses are under threat at this time, but may in the near future. The fire started on 2 Jan, and flared to near its current size of 500 ha on the 3rd. Today, firefighters were forced to retreat for safety's sake due to the fierce spotting.

The image, captured from the Aqua satellite overpass around 1530 LT on the 4th shows a dense smoke plume moving toward the ESE along with a significant area of hotspots. The smoke is directly affecting Beaconsfield (B) and residents in Launceston (L), about 30 km away, are also being affected.

Compared to typical dangerous fire weather conditions on the mainland, the weather is relatively mild. High temperatures were only near 20 C and RH was quite high. Sustained NW winds around 25 km/h with higher gusts are largely driving the fire. This lower threshold of dangerous fire weather in TAS is typical, and probably related to higher fuel loads in the forests found on the island. Forests burn more easily on the island. Conditions will likely worsen with hotter weather and a continuation of the wind expected on the 5th.

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