January 08, 2013 12:00AM
BUSHFIRES continue across much of Australia as infernal conditions threaten catastrophe.
Tasmania continues to burn, Victoria faces a renewed fire threat and NSW will today wake to its most dangerous fire-risk day on record.
Although one fire near Wagga Wagga had eased by last night, a firefighter has been burned and a tanker destroyed during a blaze at Goulburn.
An emergency alert telephone warning message has been sent to areas in NSW deemed at “catastrophic” fire risk.
The NSW Rural Fire Service has sent a warning SMS to the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and the Southern Ranges regions ahead of a 43C forecast and recommends people escape while they can.
The service said people should leave by morning.
NSW Parks and Wildlife rangers have already begun visiting popular campsites amid Tuesday’s closure of the state’s national parks and reserves.
Stock and wildlife, including this poor wallaby in Victoria, have been lost in the fires. Picture: Sam Rosewarne
A spokesman said rangers would continue visiting campsites on Tuesday morning, encouraging people to leave.
He said there would be no forced evacuations unless there was a fire emergency.
In Victoria, a massive bushfire could potentially double in size and hit small farming communities in Victoria’s southwest, as the north of the state faces severe conditions.
There is a threat to lives and property with the southwest Victorian settlement of Drik Drik under direct attack from fire and embers, authorities said on Monday night.
An afternoon wind change swung the 4000-hectare Kentbruck fire on a path to Drik Drik, an agricultural farming area of about 30 houses.
Authorities warned the out-of-control bushfire had the potential to double in size to 8000 hectares in an afternoon with westerly to south-westerly winds of up to 40km/h on Tuesday capable of pushing the fire a significant distance.
Fire services commissioner Craig Lapsley said the immediate concern on Monday night was the Drik Drik area but the key issue would be on Tuesday.
At Dunalley, Tasmania, the local community has been collecting and distributing clothes and other necessities to victims.
“It will be a fire that will be pushed with winds and we believe that it’s got the potential to move significant distance tomorrow, potentially block the Princes Highway and have further impacts on the rural community around Drik Drik and Dartmoor,” Mr Lapsley said.
Nearly 500 firefighters and a dozen aircraft are battling the blaze, which started on Friday and has mainly burnt through pine plantations.
The Country Fire Authority said there had been no reports of property damage or loss of life by early Monday night, dismissing earlier rumours that at least one home had been hit by the fire.
A spokeswoman said there was still a risk to lives and property.
A number of roads have been closed and most of the 250 residents of nearby Dartmoor have already left the town.
Mr Lapsley warned the next 24 hours would be critical, but he said the Victorian towns of Portland, Nelson, Heywood and Mt Gambier in South Australia were unlikely to be directly affected by the fire.
“We are doing significant planning on the potential of how large it could get, that is not a scenario that we would see at this stage, where those major centres would be impacted by this fire,” he said at the State Control Centre in Melbourne.
Clouds from a nearby bushfire are seen over Mount Wellington in Hobart. Photo: Mark Metcalfe
“It would need a significant run of fire that is not predicted, however in this general area it could increase from 4000 to 8000 hectares in size in an afternoon so it has potential to move, but not to move to impact on major centres.”
Mr Lapsley said the main concern on Tuesday was for northern Victoria, which faces yet another day of hot conditions, with total fire bans declared in the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country and North East fire districts.
He said there was a severe fire danger stretching along the South Australian border, the Murray River and the NSW border.
Lightning strikes have already sparked blazes in northeastern Victoria and there are also fears that fires across the Murray River in NSW may reach Victoria if they take hold.
Northern parts of the state have experienced several days in a row above 40C.
In Tasmania, which has already taken the brunt of the first of this year’s major fires, and continues to do so, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has urged Tasmanians to stay vigilant as bushfires continue to burn out of control.
Ms Gillard travelled through the fire ravaged region between Forcett and Dunalley yesterday after briefings with the emergency management team overseeing the fight against the devastating fires that have gripped the state.
Standing where the Dunalley Primary School once stood, Ms Gillard said she was taken by the cruel, random nature of the bushfires that had taken some homes but not others.
Joined by Premier Lara Giddings, the Prime Minister warned Tasmanians to stay vigilant.
“Fires are still being fought, it is important that people still stay alert.”
Ms Gillard said Victorian and South Australian firefighters who had flown in yesterday to offer some respite for local crews were “showing great Australian mateship” and the nation was standing with Tasmanians.
“I want to thank everybody who has been out there helping,” she said.
“The nation is standing with them at this very difficult time.”
John Yaxley stands in front of the remains of his parents home in Copping. Picture: Sam Rosewarne
Ms Gillard urged all Australians to donate to the Red Cross Tasmanian Bushfire appeal.
All donations would be tax-deductable.
Tasmanian police had searched about 250 properties in Dunalley and to the north of the town, including 90 badly damaged or destroyed buildings, yesterday.
About 65 police and other searchers were continuing to search south of Dunalley to the more densely forested Murdunna and Sommers Bay area.
Acting police commissioner Scott Tilyard said the painstakingly slow process was yet to discover any bodies.
Mr Tilyard said police were working through about 500 enquiries from all over the world, as people tried to locate family and friends.
He said police were still focused on about 100 people whose whereabouts were still yet to be confirmed.
Fire wreckage at Dunalley, Tasmania. Picture: Linda Smith
“We need to focus on those people as a priority.”
But last night police said some of those people had registered their whereabouts with authorities.
Southern District Commander Peter Edwards said last night it was difficult to put an exact figure on how many were still unaccounted for.
“It is very fluid,” he said.
“But there are still people unaccounted for”.
Ms Gillard said she understood the frustration of locals who had not been able to gain access to the region, but stressed safety was paramount with fires still threatening parts of the area with a watch-and-act alert still current for the Forcett area.
The fire front continued to move down the Tasman Peninsula, edging closer to the township of Murdunna.
Counting the Costs
The Forcett fire remains out of control and is still cause for concern
“A number of people know their home has been destroyed, but as yet for safety reasons they haven’t been able to see the damage for themselves,” Ms Gillard said.
“(It is) a real stressing position to be in knowing that you have lost so much but not being able to see it for yourself.”
A convoy of supplies were being sent to the Tasman Pennisula last night for hundreds of people still stranded and running out of supplies.
In the Upper Derwent Valley, the Lake Repulse fire that has destroyed 16,000 hectares of bush and forest in rugged country near the town of Ellendale was still uncontrolled.
Police will take action against a 31-year-old man from New Norfolk in relation to an unattended campfire at Repulse dam last Thursday.
In the North West, an uncontrolled fire, understood to have been started by a lightning strike on Saturday, had already claimed one shack in Montumana.
Embers and smoke were affecting the nearby coastal areas of Rocky Cape, Sisters Beach and Detention River.
Smoke plume from a bushfire burning at Forcett in Tasmania. Photo: Twitter, @foodsideoflife
The fire was upgraded to emergency status yesterday afternoon, with 11 crews battling the blaze.
Crews were still keeping a close eye on fires at Epping Forest, in the state’s North and fires near the East Coast town of Bicheno that had already claimed up to 15 properties.
Lara Giddings was born on November 14th, 1972 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lara_Giddings
November 14th, 1972
14 +1+9+7+2 = 33 = her “secret” number = Courage. Bravery. Going into the lion’s den.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
3 7 7
her primary challenge and what she has to do both = LG = 37 = Water. Hydration. Australia.
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predictions for the year 2013 are at: