Back in 2019, Tasmania/ lutruwita was badly impacted by wildfires (check here for a diary of those fires). With much of south eastern Australia experiencing a La Nina mild summer, the forecast is for a ‘mild’ season across most of the south east.

But following lightning storms over the weekend of December 18 and 19, 2021, a number of fires have started in remote World Heritage Areas in Tasmania/ lutruwita. It has been noted that since the year 2000, there has been an increase in the number of lightning-caused fires and an increase in the average size of the fires in Tasmania, “resulting in a marked increase in the area burnt”.

This page will track significant fires on public lands in Tasmania during the summer of 2021/22.

DEC 20

Eldon Range Fire

DEC 20: The Eldon Range fireground west of Cradle Mountain national park is now at 444 ha. They were started by lightning strikes on Saturday December 19. This is a remote and rocky area. Rain on Sunday may have helped slow the spread of the fire.

The Tasmanian Fire Service says that the fire “going”, and that the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is “monitoring” the situation .

There are fears that the fire is active in areas of peat (which is notoriously hard to put out). Dan Broun reports that there are stands of Deciduous Beech and Pencil Pine nearby, which are very fire sensitive.

The Tasmanian Times reports that ‘Further intelligence will be gathered on the Eldon Range fire on Sunday morning and a plan put in place to respond and protect values in that area’.

Mt Rufus Fire

DEC 20: The Tasmanian Times reports that ‘PWS Deputy Secretary Jason Jacobi said the PWS deployed its remote area winching crews on Saturday immediately following the storm event. “The remote area winching crews were unable to reach the Eldon Range fire due to weather conditions but re-deployed to Mt Rufus and have been successful at containing that fire.” By DEC 21, it had grown to 76.9 hectares in size.

TFS reports that the ‘fire is burning in low scrubby eucalyptas’ and that the fire covers 15 ha.

What is the forecast for the season?

Are these fires the start of something bad? Hopefully not. As noted by Liam Oakwood, ‘the rainfall indicators are looking reasonably decent, with solid rainfall in the recent past, median to slightly above median outlook coming up. I was out walking on the West coast 2019 summer, and it was *dry*! Dried up streams and marshes’.

Sources:

Andrew Darby, Dan Broun, TAS Fire Service, The Tasmanian Times, Liam Oakwood.

Additional information: TFS map of incidents.