Tasmania, January 2013

Dunalley bushfire, 2013

Quick Statistics

1 Fatalities
$89 Million Insurance Costs
203 Homes Destroyed

In early January 2013, hot, windy conditions fanned up to 40 fires throughout Tasmania. The main fire started near Forcett and caused significant damage to local townships, particularly Dunalley, east of Hobart, where more than half of the town’s buildings and a primary school were destroyed. Other significant fire fronts were located at Lake Repulse and Bicheno.

Economically, the impacts from the fires were very significant with an estimated 100 businesses directly affected and 150 indirectly affected. The two largest employers in the Dunalley region, a timber business and abalone business, experienced losses which caused  significant impacts on the local region and economy. Electricity company, Aurora, reported approximately 300 electricity poles were destroyed on the Tasman Peninsula, causing power outages for a considerable time.

Losses in primary production included 15 large farms in the Forcett region, which suffered significant damage, with one estimating the cost at $1 million. Others farms of various sizes lost pasture, livestock, residences, fencing, sheds and equipment and future income for the 2013 and 2014 financial years. Nine oyster farms were affected by fire and suffered damages estimated at $3 million.

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments were made available to residents in the south-east and east of Tasmania, covering the affected local government areas of Sorell, Tasman and Glamorgan-Spring Bay. Other grants made available were immediate cash assistance grants, housing assistance grants, Aurora energy assistance and clean-up and assistance grants. A first stage recovery payment from the Red Cross Appeal Distribution Committee was distributed, providing $3000 per adult and $1000 per child by late January. The Department of Human Services has allocated more than $7,845,000 to cover approximately 6900 claims.

These fires were described as the worst in almost half a century. On 14 January, a Tasmanian Bushfire Recovery Taskforce was established and the state moved to recovery mode. The taskforce estimated that rebuilding communities could take up to two years, with contractors expected to start clearing damaged properties by the end of January.

The Insurance Council of Australia estimated the preliminary damage of the Tasmanian fires at $89 million.

Sources

ABC News, ‘Dunalley locals question control-burning regime’, 10 January 2013, website viewed 11 January 2013.
ABC News, ‘Fears for missing residents as fire fighting continues’, 6 January 2013, website viewed 7 January 2013.
ABC News, ‘Fears of food shortage on isolated Tasman Peninsula’, 7 January 2013, website viewed 7 January 2013.
ABC News, ‘Firefighters' battle continues as temperatures soar’, 12 January 2013, website viewed 15 January 2013.
ABC News, ‘Homes destroyed in NSW bushfire’, 14 January 2013, website viewed 15 January 2013.
ABC News, ‘Stories of survival emerge from Tas inferno’, 7 January 2013, website viewed 7 January 2013.
ABC News, ‘Thousands stranded as crews continue to battle fires’, 7 January 2013, website viewed 7 January 2013.
ABC News, ‘Tragic scenes as fires destroy homes across Tas’, 6 January 2013, website viewed 7 January 2013.
The Age, ‘Memories revived as dark inferno revisits Dunalley’, 6 January 2013, website viewed 7 January 2013.
The Australian, ‘Tas road reopens to bushfire-hit Dunalley’, 13 January 2013, website viewed 17 January 2013.
Canberra Times, ‘Insurers declare catastrophe on Tasmanian Fires’, 5 January 2013, website viewed 7 January 2013.

Department of Premier and Cabinet, Bushfire Recovery, 6 January 2013, website viewed 7 January 2013.
Insurance Council of Australia, Disaster statistics – Tasmanian bushfires, 2013, website viewed 1 February 2013.
Roxon N (Minister for Emergency Management) 2013, Extra disaster assistance for Tasmanian communities, media release, 11 January, website viewed 11 January 2013.
Roxon N, Gillard J, Carr K, (Minister for Emergency Management, Prime Minister, Minister for Human Services) 2013, Federal financial assistance to help Tasmanians get back on their feet, media release, Canberra 6 January.
Tasmanian Bushfire Recovery Taskforce, Interim Action Plan, February 2013, website viewed 4 March 2013.
Tasmanian Government, Tasmanian Bushfire Recovery, Recovery News, Edition 1, 25 January 2013, website viewed 5 February 2013.
Tasmania Police, Update – Fire response on Tasman Peninsula, 4 January 2013, website viewed 7 January 2013.