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Churches survive bushfires

11 January 2013

REUTERS

Aftermath:bushfire smoke billows over a beach at Carlton, east of Hobart, on Friday

Aftermath:bushfire smoke billows over a beach at Carlton, east of Hobart, on Friday

FIRST reports from the towns ravaged by bushfires in Tasmania at the weekend, where about 100 properties have so far been destroyed, but without known loss of life, indicate that church buildings are still standing.

The Revd Jill McCoy, Rector of Sorell, Richmond and Tasman, the parish that covers the areas affected by one of the main fires, has reported that none of the parish's several church buildings has been affected. In Sorell, Ms McCoy and other church members have been assisting in the recovery centre. St Martin's, in Dunalley, the worst- affected town, where at least 65 properties were destroyed, is among the buildings standing.

The Bishop of Tasmania, the Rt Revd John Harrower, has visited City Hall in Hobart, where many of the refugees from the fire zones have been given shelter. Pastoral support at City Hall is being provided by a chaplaincy team co- ordinated by the Senior Hospital Chaplain, Paul Hueston. A Tasmanian regional bishop, Dr Chris Jones, is also on duty there.

So far, Tasmania has been the Australian state worst affected, as extreme heat continues across much of the continent. In what has been described as a "dome of heat", high temperatures are affecting the country from northern Victoria to inland New South Wales, central west Queensland to north-western Western Australia, and down to the Nullarbor coast. Melbourne sweltered in 41°C last Friday.

Average national temperatures since the beginning of the new year have hovered near 40°C, and are predicted to beat the record of 40.17° set in December 1976.

Tasmanian appeal. Bishop Harrower has launched an appeal to support the parishes affected by the bushfires. Online donations can be made to the Tasmanian Anglican Bushfire Appeal through the website www.anglicare-tas.org.au/BeInvolved/Donate.aspx; cheques should be made out to "Anglican Health and Welfare", and sent to GPO Box 748, Hobart TAS 7001

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