Stock, crops and fencing lost amidst fierce Tassie fires

By Tasmanian Rural Reporters – ABC – Monday, 07/01/2013

Tas-5The toll from Tasmania’s bushfire storm continues to mount with active fires burning on several fronts.

Thousands of hectares of timbered farmland and pasture, and thousands of sheep, as well as cereal and poppy crops and kilometres of fencing have been lost.

Dunalley farmer, Matt Dunbabbin says with roads cut to the area at the moment, access for fire fighting is the big issue

“It’s probably about a third of the property at the moment, about 2,000 hectares,” he said.

“But by the time it is finished it’s likely to be double that, I would have thought.

“Obviously a lot of people have lost their houses, farming neighbours.

“We’ve lost a few stock but there are some neighbours that have lost a lot more than us and they’ll be really battling.”

Alex Branch farms at Primose Sands near Dunalley, the area worst affected by fires.

While nearly all fences on his property are destroyed, he feels very lucky his house was left standing as the fire caught him by surprise.

“The stock seem to have been able to stand out of it, and survive it.

We’ve got no feed at all, the place is completely gutted.

But the stock, it came in two waves, and obviously they managed to stay out of the firestorm on its way through.”

Derwent Valley

Tas-6In Tasmania’s Derwent Valley district, farmers are counting the cost of the Dawson Road, Lake Repulse fire that started on Friday.

Hamilton farmer and contractor, Matthew Pitt’s farm escaped flames that came right to his boundary.

Matthew Pitt says several of his neighbours aren’t so lucky, losing homes, sheds, fences, livestock, pastures, and cherry, wheat and poppy crops.

“These fires are not going to be put out for weeks, so it depends what the weather is like later on,” he said.

“[It’ll depend on] where it comes from, to how it will impact down the track.

“So there’ll be no relaxing for anyone.”

For livestock affected by Tasmania’s bush fires, important welfare decisions are being made.

Tasmania’s chief vet, Dr Rod Andrew-Arthur, says allowing animals to suffer after a fire is not acceptable.

Dr Andrew-Arthur says there’s help and advice available for assessing burnt and injured animals after the fires.

“Of course at the minute we can’t get people into the worst-affected areas because of the restriction on people accessing there.

“But if people are uncertain, the best thing is that they give us a call on 6233 6875 and we’ll put them in touch with someone who can provide them advice.”

Oyster industry badly affected

Tas-3Tasmania’s oyster industry is counting the costs of fires in recent days.

The Tasman Peninsula supports a significant shellfish industry which is also big employer in the region.

Fire damage to oyster farms includes loss of oyster racks, barges and boats, land based infrastructure including sheds, tractors, tanks and essential power sources.

Executive officer of Oysters Tasmania, Dr Tom Lewis is trying to work out the extent of the damage.

He says at this stage stock in the water should survive, but it will depend on the weather as rain runoff from bushfire areas could have an effect.

Stonefruit trouble

Meanwhile the hot weather is, in some cases, literally stewing stonefruit on trees.

Heather Chong is one of Tasmania’s largest producers of apricots.

She says the heatwave has destroyed around 100 tonnes of fruit.