Tassie cools, but fire threat remains

11:07am January 9, 2013

Authorities say the bushfire threat in south eastern Tasmania remains high, despite cooler conditions across the state.

The fires have destroyed at least 128 homes across the state since last Friday, with the damage concentrated on the Tasman Peninsula, east of Hobart.

There have been no confirmed deaths, but police are conducting property-by-property searches for human remains in affected areas.

Up to 100 people were feared missing and many have been accounted for.

Victoria police have sent 20 officers to Tasmania to aid in the search efforts.

Temperatures were much cooler in southern Tasmania on Wednesday, with Hobart only expected to reach a top of 16 degrees and snow forecast for mountainous areas.

A watch and act alert remains in place for the Forcett fires, which continues to burn out of control.

The Tasman Peninsula is still isolated from the rest of the state, with the Arthur Highway and several other major thoroughfares closed.

Hundreds remain at evacuation centres in Nubeena and at the Port Arthur historic site.

Energy supplier Aurora says thousands of staff are working to restore power to the area, but have warned residents could be in blackout for weeks to come.

Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings says the disaster is one of the state's worst since the devastating fires of February 1967, when 62 people lost their lives and thousands of homes were destroyed.

"People have lost everything. We can't comprehend that devastation unless we are in their shoes," Ms Giddings said on Tuesday.

Ms Giddings has established an interim bushfire committee to help co-ordinate the early stages of recovery and to appoint a taskforce with a full time chair.

The fires have consumed over 80,000 hectares since last week - more than one per cent of the island state's total land mass.

Acting police commissioner Scott Tilyard said more than 700 properties had now been searched.

He said those regarded as missing may have just moved to different areas without registering their details with the National Registration Inquiry System.

"It's important to note that at this stage, police have no official missing persons reports," Mr Tilyard said.

"At this point, more than 2200 individuals have been identified as safe and well.

"My advice is, there are no reports of missing persons in circumstances that cause us to have grave fears for their safety at this time."

Mr Tilyard said he understood residents' frustration at not being able to return home, but said police were working hard to conduct safety checks in affected areas.

© AAP 2014
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