There is currently a bushfire burning at Olegas Bluff within the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park in south western lutruwita/ Tasmania.
The Parks and Wildlife Service is undertaking air-based suppression works in the area. The fire is not yet contained and the cause of the fire is yet to be determined.
The most disturbing aspect of this fire is that it threatens the Truchanas Pine Forest, which contains globally significant Huon Pine trees.
The Greens note that:
‘Protected in 1970 after a concerted campaign by legendary Tasmanian wilderness photographer and environmentalist, Olegas Truchanas, the reserve contains the largest stand of Huon Pine in Tasmania, and therefore the globe.
These rare trees’ numbers have already been badly impacted by wild fires in 2013 and 2019.
No fire has entered this reserve in potentially thousands of years and all efforts and resources should be dispatched to ensure this spectacular, enchanting and important forest is protected’.
Walking tracks and routes within the area are closed which includes access to the Hamilton Range and Truchanas Pine Forest via the Gordon Dam, the Prince of Wales Range and Pearce Basin to the Denison River. These areas will be closed until further notice.
It has also been reported that the fire is burning near an Aboriginal site (a previously habituated cave dating back to Ice Age periods).
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but a Parks Controller says the fire is possibly “sleeper” start in dry peat from lightning storm two weeks earlier. Scientists tell us there is evidence of greater lightning ground strikes in Tasmania under climate change.
UPDATE FEB 26: The Parks service reports that the bushfire is under control after 11 days of fire-fighting, with concentrated ground work and water bombing. The fire size held at 340 ha, aided by a 2020 fuel reduction burn to east.
FEB 22: update via Andrew Darby: ‘Remote crew(s) are understood to be still on the ground. Map shows fire creeping down Maxwell River side; however, it is held out on eastern side, clear of the Truchanas Reserve.
February 20: The Parks Service says that ‘the fire has not progressed since yesterday and the fire perimetre has not significantly changed over the past 4 days.’ There are three fixed wing aircraft and 5 helicopters working on the fire. Parks is working to stop any eastward spread into the Huon Pine reserve.
February 18: The Parks Service has released hopeful detail on “relatively quiet” day fighting the Olegas Bluff World Heritage bushfire.
They say: Ground crews are “prioritising sensitive natural and cultural heritage assets”, Scoop-and-drop aircraft are working the eastern boundary (closest to Truchanas Reserve), & 10mm of rain is expected.
FEB 18: Weather reports indicate that strong westerlies are blowing and the treasured Truchanas Huon Pine reserve is located on the Denison River to the east.
The fire is currently around 340 ha in size, and a Parks remote fire fighting crew is on scene, and 4 aircraft, including helicopters, have been tasked to the fire.
Andrew Darby, via twitter. https://twitter.com/looksouth