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Thousands stranded as fires devastate Tasmania
At least 100 properties have been destroyed and thousands of people have been left stranded by bushfires that are continuing to rage out of control in Tasmania.
Towns on the devastated Tasman Peninsula in the states south-east are cut off and only accessible via sea.
Meanwhile, a fire emergency warning has been issued between Inala Road at Forcett and the Tasman Peninsula.
The Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) says the out-of-control blaze has spread south of Murdunna and has active fire edges back to Forcett and Dodges Ferry.
The service says Taranna is currently being affected by the fire and it is too late for residents to leave the town.
It is understood a number of properties near Eaglehawk Neck have been lost.
The peninsula remains cut off with the Arthur Highway closed until further notice.
Phil Douglas from the TFS says people need to keep off the highway near the Forcett and Nubeena areas.
"There is a strong potential for trees and power lines to fall across those roads at any time without any warming," he said.
An emergency warning has also been issued for the Bicheno area in the states east, where a 4,000-hectare fire is burning out of control.
Firefighters warned the communities of Friendly Beaches and Bicheno may be affected by smoke, embers and ash.
They said Coles Bay Road, south of the Apsley River, and the Tasman Highway, south of Tower Hill, were at very high fire risk.
Coles Bay Road has been closed in both directions, cutting road access to Coles Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula.
The TFS says it is likely too late for residents to leave the affected area, with residents urged to activate their bushfire plans and defend their homes or leave, but only if the path is clear.
There is a community fire refuge for Bicheno residents at Bicheno Community Hall and another for Coles Bay and Swanwick residents at the Swansea Football Ground.
TFS deputy chief officer Gavin Freeman says a change is expected later in the day.
"The breeze is still up, not quite as bad as it was for us yesterday, of course, but we are expecting still to be chasing uncontained fire, fire crews reacting to that and making sure we have people out of the way of fires if they do jump containment lines," he said.
"It is very much getting a handle on what we have got and making the most of slightly eased conditions."
He is urging people in affected areas to remain vigilant.
"The thing we are most concerned about now, after the terrible conditions we had yesterday, that people might breathe the sigh of relief and relax," he said.
"We cant relax yet. People need to remain vigilant, ready to enact the bushfire plan, and listen to media and the warnings through our website as to instructions of what they need to do."
Overnight a massive sea rescue operation moved more than 1,000 people trapped by the Tasman Peninsula fires to safety in Hobart, 50 kilometres away.
Thousands of people, including 700 tourists at Port Arthur, remain stranded.
Acting State Premier Bryan Green says every effort is being made to ensure safe centres are available at Nubeena and Sorell and back in Hobart.
"At one stage there were about 3,000 people isolated on the Peninsula but it is my understanding the resources we have available will ensure we can move those people from the affected area by at least the early hours of the morning," he said.
"In the meantime, we will continue to ensure that we put in place all of the appropriate planning to provide the services that are required immediately for people, and at the same time, start to think about how we recover from this situation."
Dunalley residents have told how they were forced to dive into the canal in the middle of the town to escape the wall of flames coming towards them.
There are still dozens more fires burning burning out of control across Tasmania, forcing evacuations and cutting off towns.
Authorities have increased the danger warning of a fire burning out of control at Nubeena, near a fire refuge centre on the Tasman Peninsula.
A fire at Lake Repulse in the Upper Derwent Valley has destroyed several homes as well as livestock and farming equipment in the area and there is a watch and act alert for the area.
The TFS says the fire is affecting communities at Ellendale and Karanja, while Lawrenny and Hamilton may be directly affected later on Saturday.
Residents have been told to move to a nearby safer place as the last resort, but only if the path is clear.
A fire at Speedwell Road at Montumana, in the states north-west, is still burning out of control, but the alert level has been downgraded.
Crews are continuing to monitor blazes at Tunnack, Black Bobs, Buckland, Steppes, Southwest and Richmond.
Toll-free hotline for information about the fires : Call 1800 567 567
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