NZ & Australian fire updates

Friday 8 Feb 2019

In New Zealand, fire fighters are still battling the fire just outside of Nelson. As of yesterday, fire fighters had saved the Carter Holt Harvey sawmill near Nelson from destruction. But it was too early for managers to assess the damage to the surrounding forests mainly owned or managed by Tasman Pine Forests, a subsidiary of Sumitomo Forestry.

The latest available map of the fire area shows the fire came within metres of the Carter Holt sawmill. Civil Defence said there were still a number of fires burning and access to the sawmill and forest areas was cut off for most people.

The fire was called in about 2pm on Tuesday at Pigeon Valley, near Wakefield, about 30 kilometres southwest of Nelson at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. A state of emergency was called on Wednesday morning, with the fire spreading to cover 1,900 hectares with an approximate 22km perimeter by the evening. A Civil Defence spokesman said there was at least one house gone with others yet to be confirmed.

In Australia, as we’ve reported, the bushfires in Tasmania are having a huge impact on the state’s private forestry industry, with tens of thousands of hectares burnt. Private Forests Tasmania said that as of February 5, a total of 35,325 hectares of the private forest estate had been burnt in the fires.

The amount of non-industrial private forest burnt as of yesterday was 31,071 ha, dwarfing the non-industrial hardwood plantations burnt total of 483 ha. On the industrial front, the private native forest estate burnt was 4254 ha, while industrial hardwood plantation area burnt was 2756 ha and softwood 533 ha. These figures will be updated when the picture becomes clearer.

Tasmanian Minister for Resources Sarah Courtney said that it was too early to provide accurate numbers, but current estimates indicate more than 190 thousand hectares of both private and public land has been impacted from the recent Tasmanian fires.

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