A photograph of three worn-out firefighters covered in ash has gone viral after battling bushfires in Tasmania.
About 20 fires are burning out-of-control across Tasmania and more than 189,000 hectares have now been destroyed.
On Friday, a picture of three firefighters was shared on Facebook by Hobart band The Wolfe Brothers.
The photo of the trio, who had been battling blazes for 12 hours in Gell River, was taken by firefighter John Lyons who shared it with the band.
Jason Luck, John Kroczewski and Paul Catteral were all pictured sitting in a helicopter in their firefighting gear with black soot on their faces and their clothes after battling bushfires.
The Wolfe Brothers wrote the “incredible” trio “look like they have been in a war zone”.
“Is it the diesel, or the barb wire, or breaking your back to fight a bush fire (sic)?” the band wrote.
“If you are unaware currently in Tasmania there is some seriously bad bush fires (sic). Nearly three per cent of the state has been destroyed.
“To all the firefighters, emergency services, police, paramedics and volunteers know there is (sic) a lot of people around this country that really appreciate you and can’t thank you enough for what you do.”
Firefighter John Lyons told Yahoo7 the group are career firefighters who are part of a remote area team and had just been extricated via helicopter.
All of them had been flown in from Strathgordon, north of Huon Valley.
“We were inserted by a helicopter and working on the ground with air support from water bombing helicopters,” he said.
The picture has since gone viral and has more than 21,000 shares, with many expressing their appreciation for the hard work of emergency service workers.
‘Heroes don’t wear capes’
One man said “these guys” were “unsung heroes”.
“A big shout out to all the firefighters working hard to protect the communities of Tasmania,” he wrote.
Another man added “heroes don’t wear capes”.
One woman suggested “every firefighter” should receive a bravery award.
Another commented with her own picture of the Gell River crew – made up of New Zealand and NSW firefighters.
“Each and every one of you that have come to help our little island we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” she wrote.
Very high fire danger
Authorities are bracing for dangerous weather on Sunday afternoon as major blazes burn in the Huon Valley on the central plateau and west coast.
A very high fire danger is predicted for much of the state, with a severe danger rating at Fingal Valley in the northeast.
Several hundred people remain at an evacuation centre at Huonville, with more expected to arrive throughout the day.
Nearly 700 evacuated to the centre from surrounding communities a few days ago when the bushfire risk was at its worst.
“We are expecting a lot of those people to return today, people who aren’t well prepared to defend their homes,” Huon Valley Mayor Bec Enders said.
“There’s a lot of smoke. It’s quite uncomfortable for breathing.”
Authorities are most worried about communities around Huonville, Lonnavale and Geeveston on Sunday.
Ricky Clark, the owner of the BP at Geeveston, said people were on edge.
“Over the last few days, everyone’s been a bit panicky. The wind comes up and blows one direction. It dies down and goes in a different direction,” he said.
“A lot of people live on the outskirts of Geeveston and don’t know whether to stay or go.”
A total fire ban has been declared for the south, plus parts of the north, and peak gusts of up to 70km/h are tipped.
Authorities have urged residents to leave their home early if they are not prepared to fight fires.
“We are not out of the woods yet. The weather will put pressure on communities, our people and resources,” Tasmania Fire Service chief fire officer Chris Arnol said.
Ten watch and act alerts are in place for blazes across the state.
Hundreds of firefighters took advantage of eased conditions on Saturday to backburn and create containment lines.
Schools at Glen Huon, Geeveston, Franklin and Dover will be closed for the next fortnight because of the ongoing bushfire threat.
Vast tracks of wilderness in the state’s southwest have been blackened by wildfire.
– with AAP
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