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Phuket expat amid Tasmania wildfires

Phuket expat amid Tasmania wildfires

PHUKET: A Phuket-based expat back in his home state of Tasmania has called back to Phuket with details on the ongoing efforts to fight the outbreak of wildfires that have ravaged the southern Australian island state for weeks.

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By The Phuket News

Tuesday 29 January 2019, 05:46PM


At least 56 blazes were burning in the state on Saturday, with 28 of them uncontrolled amid tinder-dry conditions, reported local authorities.

“Today the Tasmania Fire Service issued another Total Fire Ban for the southern and northern parts of the state coming into effect from 2am, January 30,” Blair Horgan, a professional photographer based in Phuket told The Phuket News today.

Interstate and International resources have been called in to supplement local resources, which have been pushed to their limits, he said.

“Currently today (Jan 29)), there are several fire fronts are still burning. The best way is to keep up to date via the Tasmania Fire Service website,” he added.

“As for me being here on the ground, living locally it hasn't affected me directly, but it has given me the chance to document it with my camera, spending time with two of the emergency services here in Burnie.

“I spent the afternoon with the local State Emergency Service at their Regional Operations Command, seeing how they run things behind the scene, providing their logistical skills backing up the other emergency services, providing traffic control and transporting much-needed supplies. Seeing how the volunteers and other staff running this branch of the emergency services here in Tasmania is amazing,; Mr Horgan explained.

Currently, there are several fire fronts across the state, Stretching from Gell River area, Up to the central plateau, and across to the west coast. Evacuation areas have been set up in fire-affected areas, while residents affected have been listening to local radio stations, and emergency services have been holding community meetings to keep people up to date, he noted.

“I was fortunate enough to been granted permission to spend time with the Tasmania Fire Service, which allowed me into one affected area of the West Coast of Tasmania. My day started at the Tasmania Fire Service North West Regional Headquarters, then getting a lift with a helicopter down to the Zeehan airbase.

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“Flying over the burnt out area of Lynch Hill and then into Zeehan, seeing the burnt out areas put things into perspective, and showed just how remote Tasmania’s wilderness really is,” he said.

“After spending time with the crews at the airbase, watching fire fighting helicopters coming in and out of the airbase, and then watching as they prepared aircraft for water bombing operations was quite stunning.

“Later on in the day, I spent time with firefighters preparing for fuel reduction burns on the hills coming into the town, which allowed fire crews to put in a buffer zone between the fire and the town, watching the firefighters working so hard to keep the community safe. Putting in fuel reduction burns, working relentlessly,” Mr Horgan recounted.

In a nutshell, all emergency services have been pushed to their limits, he said.

“Things change every day, another fire starts and then another area gets a break. It’s been back and forth the whole time. Moving resources from here to there.

“The logistics of it all is just mind-blowing. Volunteers, career firefighters, parks and wildlife officers, the power company, basically all essential services are involved in this ongoing fight to prevent the bushfires from spreading,” he noted.

Mr Horgan urged anyone arriving in Tasmania to keep up to date via the Tasmania Fire Services website. (Click here.)

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