The West

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the federal government is working with local and State authorities to support communities affected by bushfires across Tasmania.

Three fires are threatening communities along the east coast and in central Tasmania, with thousands of people stranded as roads are cut off.

When asked if the federal government would provide financial assistance to victims, Ms Gillard said the main focus was combating the blazes.

Ms Gillard said she would like to visit bushfire-ravaged communities but needed to ensure she would not disrupt any emergency efforts.

“I do like to go and visit communities that have been affected by disasters, but you’ve got to judge the right time ... and you are not in any way disrupting what are immediate efforts to deal with the emergency.”

She said it broke her heart when she saw footage of the damage caused by bushfires.

“I’m obviously from Victoria. We saw that huge loss of life in the Victorian bushfires. The destructive power of fires is just so awesome.

“So whenever you see those pictures, whenever you see that kind of loss, it really does touch a chord in you.”

Ms Gillard reminded people the extreme heat was widespread across Australia.

“That means there are risks in more areas than Tasmania.

The best thing people can do is stay in touch with local authorities” and heed local community warnings, she said.

The West Australian

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