No let up for Australian fire crews

Last updated 13:24 10/01/2013

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More than 100 bushfires are still burning along Australia's east coast, as Tasmanian police prepare to let people who fled weekend fires in the state return home.

The fire risk moved north to Queensland over the last two days, though the southeast is expected to be hit by another heatwave over the weekend.

Firefighters spent last night trying to get bushfires on Bribie Island, north of Brisbane, under control.

Sixteen crews have stayed at the scene to strengthen containment lines.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Meteorology said thunderstorms expected in the western part of the state would do little to reduce the state's fire threat.

A spokesman said temperatures were expected to top 30 degrees Celsius across the state and climb over 40C in the west.

In Tasmania, authorities hope to let people evacuated at the weekend from massive fires, return home tomorrow.

Police said they were looking to stagger the return in the worst-hit areas.

Twelve New Zealand firefighters have arrived in Australia and were preparing to help fight the raging bush fires in Tasmania.

Two crews of six, one from the Waimea Rural Fire Authority, flew out yesterday after a request for assistance from Tasmanian fire agencies.

National Rural Fire Officer Murray Dudfield said they arrived in Hobart last night and were to be met by their hosts and taken to their accommodation.

"Today, they'll spend the morning having an induction to the environment that they will be working in, understanding what's been going on in Tasmania in the last 10 days."

After that they would be deployed out of Hobart with an incident management team, he said.

It would not be known until probably tomorrow where the New Zealanders would be sent, Dudfield said.

In New South Wales, fire crews have been back-burning overnight to try to contain several major bushfires, taking advantage of the cool temperature before hot, windy weather sets in again.

There were 126 bushfires burning across the state, including 15 that were not contained.

More than 1000 Rural Fire Service volunteers were on the ground, using more than 80 firefighting aircraft and 360 trucks.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said firefighters were trying to contain the blazes before dangerous fire conditions returned tomorrow.

"When you've got more hot air dominating much of the state, which is already very dry, and vegetation is highly susceptible to ignition and spread of any existing fire, that's a real challenge to firefighters," Fitzsimmons told Sky News.

Crews were back-burning at the Deans Gap fire in the Shoalhaven, on the state's south coast last night, but it had not been contained, he said.

That fire has burnt through more than 5700 hectares of land.

Firefighters also spent the night back-burning at a fire near Yass in the New South Wales southern tablelands, to establish and strengthen containment lines around the blaze, which had burnt through 14,000 hectares and killed thousands of animals.

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- Fairfax and AAP

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