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Summary of Major Bushfires in Tasmania

Hobart Town Courier   Saturday 11 February 1832.
" We lament exceedingly to observe, the inconveniences of the present dry season very much aggravated by the carelessness or evil design of persons employed in the bush, who set fire to the grass and brushwood.
On several evenings during the week Hobart-Town has been illuminated by brilliant but awful flames on the sides of the hills, overhanging the town to the imminent danger of the neighbournood.
And on the other side of the Derwent as far as the eye can reach the horizon has been one range of fire and smoke. Independent of the loss of fertility of herbage, and of a large amount of firewood, so valuable in the close vicinity of town, the hazard of burning down fences, stacks of corn and even houses is very great. "
Source:  Hobart Town Courier   Saturday 11 February 1832

1st of January  1854    Ports Cygnet and Esperance fires.
" It is our painful duty to record the occurrence of a most frightful and tremendous conflagration on the Banks of the Huon, at Ports Cygnet and Esperance, and other localities in the southern parts of the island, which has not only involved an awful sacrifice of houses, timber, and valuable property, but,- we regret to say, the loss of fourteen human beings, of various ages, who are reported to have perished in the flames....... "
Source: Hobart Town Courier   Friday 13 January 1854
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31st of December  1897    Hobart and Region, Tasmanian Bushfires
For a week, the Hobart area had bushfires, becoming very dangerous on 31 December (1897).
At least 6 people died in the fires which began on Mt Wellington and moved quickly southwards to Longley, Sandfly, Kettering, Woodbridge & Gordon. Colebrook, north of Hobart, also had serious fires.

At Longley, towards Huon, 22 settlers were burnt out; including the Longley Hotel, coaching stables, the police station, 2 churches & private residences. At Kettering, in the vicinity of Oyster Cove, 21 homesteads were destroyed & 2 men died in the fires.

7th of February  1967    Hobart and Region, Tasmanian Bushfires
Over the four days leading up to these fires, a period of extreme temperature and low humiidty was experienced.
The fire index of 96 on the day of the fire was one of the highest readings on record. There were winds of up to 65 knots.

There were 62 deaths, 900 injuries and over 7000 people made homeless. The fires killed 500 horses, 1,350 cattle, 60,000 sheep, 24,000 chickens, 600 pigs, and other animals.

A total of over 3,000 buildings (including 1,293 homes and 128 major buildings (eg factories, churches, schools & POs) were destroyed, about 80 bridges and thousands of power poles, 1,500 vehicles, 5,400km of farm fences and 265,000 ha burnt (including orchards [20% of State fruit crop] other crops, pasture and forest). Original total estimated cost was approx $45M and insurance loss was $14M, both in 1967 values.

The fires reached 2km from central Hobart, fanned by 80km/h (average) winds. A Royal Commission after the fires found there were 110 fires burning within a 56km radius of Hobart on February 7.

12th of February  1982     Tasmanian Bushfires
Following hot, dry conditions and many smaller bushfire outbreaks from mid-January, by mid-February a state of emergency was declared as 20 major and many smaller bushfires burned throughout the State, including a very large one in the Broardmarsh - Kempton area, and caused $5.35m (1982 values) insured damage and resulted in one death (a firefighter), two serious, and a number of minor injuries.

Two houses, six shacks and 38 farm outbuildings were destroyed. Apart from 3000 sheep killed, there was damage to farm equipment, fences, 5000 ha of pastures, large areas of forest and some construction equipment.

11th of December  2006     Tasmanian Bushfires
Two major fires (of about 15 fires across the state) threatened towns, destroyed homes and livestock and burnt out tens of thousands of hectares. The Kellevie fire and East Coast fires started on 5 December 2006.

The Kellevie fire burnt down an unoccupied historic building and a wooden road bridge across the Carlton River on 6 December.

Thirteen houses were destroyed in Scamander on 11 December when the east coast (St Mary’s) fire jumped roads and rivers to hit the town under extreme conditions (with westerly winds over 120km/h).
An art gallery, a jeweller’s business, an electrical business, 24 large workshops, a caravan, and a wrecking yard including 70 vehicles were also reported destroyed along with power lines and mobile communications.
Some residents evacuated to Portland Hall or Doherty’s Resort in St Helens. The St Mary’s hospital was closed.

The east coast fire then jumped containment lines on 14 December and encircled the holiday settlement of Four Mile Creek, cutting off any escape route. Residents took refuge on the beach. Four houses were lost at Four Mile Creek along with workshops, a packing shed, garden sheds, two vehicles in a garage, a boat and many power poles.

Forestry Tasmania lost about $50 million worth of production timber in the Scamander-St Mary’s fire along with approximately 1000 hectares of Forest Reserve.

Major Bush Fires and the death toll incurred in Tasmania.

Year Location Start Date     Dead
1854 Port Cygnet, Tas: Bushfires 01/01/54 3
1897 Hobart, Tas: Bushfire 31/12/97 6
1967 Hobart and Region, Tasmania: 07/02/67 62
1981 Zeehan, Tas: Bushfire 01/03/81  
1982 Tasmania: Bushfires 12/02/82 1
1984 Tasmania: Bushfire 01/01/84  
1987 Southern Tasmania: Bushfires 31/01/87  
1994 Southern Region, Tas: Bushfire 04/12/94  
1995 Hobart, Tas: Bushfire 01/02/95  
1995 Eastern Region, Tas: Bushfires 01/10/95  
1997 Rossarden/Fingal Valley, Tas: 07/01/97  
1998 Burnie/north-west coast, Tas: 22/02/98  
1998 Regional, Tas: Bushfire 01/03/98  
1998 Verona Sands/Gordon, Tas: 01/02/98  
1998 Hobart, Tas: Bushfire 01/01/98  
1998 Rocky Cape NP, Tas: Bushfire 17/03/98  
2000 Gormanston, Linda Valley, Tas: 12/01/00  
2000 SE and Northern Tasmania: 05/02/00  
2001 Swan Bay and Midlands, Tas: 27/02/01  
2003 Hobart, TAS: Bushfires 08/01/03  
2006 Tasmanian bushfires 11/12/06  


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Summary of major Bushfires in Tasmania. ( 5 pages)

by Romsey Australia
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia License.