RAGING INFERNO ENGULFS SOUTH OF TASMANIA
Hobart, Tuesday. Raging bush fires have turned Southern Tasmania into an inferno which has killed an estimated 50 people, destroyed whole townships, and is threatening Hobart itself, the State capital (population 120,000).
The State Governor has declared a state of emergency on the island, as thousands of fire-fighters battle to block the advance of the solid wall of flame.
At least 450 houses have been destroyed, including 60 in the suburbs of Hobart. Crops have been devastated, and hundreds of dead cattle and bush animals lie scattered across the countryside. Men driving their families out of the danger area found they were engaged in а race against death, with flames reaching out at them from all sides, and a blanket of smoke blotting out sun and sky. Most got though, but some did not.
City workers jammed public transport services in a frantic rush to got home as news of the fire danger in the suburbs reached them.
Tonight the sight of stunned families squatting in the street with a few meagre possessions round them is a frequent one in many suburbs.
The authorities fear that the final death toll may be much higher than the 50 estimated by police sо far.
In the mountainside suburb of Ferntree, 41. houses and a hotel were destroyed and all communications were cut off.
There were fears for the safety of the 150 residents but later it was learned they had been safely evacuated.
Four fire-fighters were burned to death as they tried to hold back the flames at Lenah Valley, another Hobart suburb.
An appeal was launched tonight for relief for the hundreds of refugees who have policed into relief centres here seeking accommodation, food and clothing.
Tonight the flames, fanned by treacherously changing winds of up to 70 miles an hour, were still rolling down 4,500 ft. Mount Wellington, which towers over Hobart. (Morning Star, 1967)