9 Jan 2013

Hopes rise for no fatalies in Tasmanian after fires

10:00 pm on 9 January 2013

Confidence is rising that the worst bushfires in Tasmania in nearly half a century could be fatality free.

AAP reports police had held grave fears for up to 100 people but now say they have no concerns for any specific missing person.

Acting Commissioner Scott Tilyard said police were still to account for everyone but hopes were rising after searches of 850 sites.

"We have no missing persons reports in circumstances where we hold grave fears for the safety of any individual, which is a very positive position to be in," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"As time goes by that confidence gains but we're still yet to complete our searching process.

Tasmania is widely considered to have suffered its worst fires since 1967, when 62 lives and 2000 properties were lost.

The blazes which began last Thursday have destroyed 130 properties and burnt 110,000 hectares.

"We certainly were expecting that we might find deceased people given the ferocity of the fire, particularly as it moved through the peninsula last Friday," Mr Tilyard said.

"So the outcome has been better than what we anticipated."

There have also been few injuries, with only minor burns, scratches, bruises and smoke inhalation reported, much of it among firefighters.

Cool conditions in Tasmania had allowed authorities to downgrade most of the state's 30 bushfires by Wednesday evening.

Watch and act warnings are in place for the Tasman Peninsula, Montumana in the northwest and Curries River in the state's north with winds still causing problems.

Warmer temperatures and northwesterly winds on Thursday and Friday could increase the danger said Tasmania Fire Service's Deputy Chief Officer Gavin Freeman.

Meanwhile, frustrated residents of bushfire-ravaged Dunalley in southeast Tasmania could return to their properties as soon as Friday.