In Tasmania, a firestorm driven by gales roared out of forested hills and swept down onto beachside homes on the north-east coast last night. The flames burned out at least 14 properties around the town of Scamander, and threatened homes in nearby communities. The Tasmanian Fire Service chief officer, John Gledhill, said the fire, which had burned for a day in hills around the town of St Marys, broke out of the hills driven by winds of more than 120kmh. "There would have been an absolute storm of embers, I believe," he said. "Virtually the air appears to be alight."
The mayor of the local Break O'day Council, Robert Legge, said: "The information I've got at the moment is 22 or 23 houses [lost]."