Tassie houses go up in flames

TERRIBLE SIGHT: A house damaged by a bushfire is seen from a helicopter in Dunalley, Tasmania, yesterday.
TERRIBLE SIGHT: A house damaged by a bushfire is seen from a helicopter in Dunalley, Tasmania, yesterday. CHRIS KIDD

ALTHOUGH conditions were easing in Tasmania last night after record temperatures yesterday, firefighters still faced serious blazes on two fronts.

As a team was on the ground at Dunalley to investigate concerns that a man might have been trapped while trying to defend his house, authorities were counting the cost.

The fires have destroyed doz-ens of buildings across the Tasman Peninsula, east of Hobart, spurred on by record high temperatures.

With fires still threatening homes in the region last night, the Insurance Council of Australia declared the affected towns a catastrophe and created an industry taskforce to respond to the damage.

The Tasmania Fire Service upgraded a bushfire burning between Forcett, south-east of Hob-art, and the Tasman Peninsula to a "very high" emergency warning level. A second serious blaze cut off parts of Tasmania's east coast, with the holiday town of Coles Bay isolated.

More than a dozen properties have been lost south of Bicheno, and more than 100 are feared lost overall.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the Federal Government was working with local and state authorities to support communities affected by the bushfires.

She said she would like to visit bushfire-ravaged communities but needed to ensure she would not disrupt any emergency efforts.

Topics:  tasmania

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