WORLDThe Infernos Blazing in the Land Down Under
Around the world, fires continue to ravage the natural world around us, and amongst the newest and deadliest fires are the bushfires in Australia, specifically the bushfires in New South Wales. These bushfires aren’t just any old fires though. Australia is currently beginning its summer months and with summer comes dry weather and hot temperatures.
Australia normally has fires every summer so this shouldn’t be alarming news, but these fires have grown to monumental size in Australia’s dry climate. One factor to add to the fires getting so big is Australia has been experiencing a drought since the beginning of 2017 and rainfall had been cut short, making the dry climate, even dryer. To put the cherry on top everything, high winds have merged multiple wildfires together to create a gigantic fire.
Nearly all of Australia has been burnt by these fires but the state of New South Wales has been dealing with the toughest fires. So far, in just the state of NSW, the fires have destroyed over 1,500 homes and over 12.1 million acres of land have been burnt. Across the entirety of Australia, 17.9 million acres have been affected by these deadly fires. As of right now, 28 people in all of Australia have perished to the blazing fires, but that number has a high chance of going up if the fires aren’t subdued or put under control.
Not only did the fires destroy property and kill people, but they’ve also killed millions of NSW’s animals and has affected an estimated half a billion more. According to University of Sydney, the number for Australia nationwide could be over 1 billion animals. Some of the animals effected were the Koala, the Western Ground Parrot, the Blue Mountain Water Skink, the Regent Honeyeater, and multiple other species. The number in the study only accounted for mammals, birds, and reptiles, but left out all the insects and amphibians so that number could be much higher. The Federal Environment Administrator, Sussan Ley, has said that Almost a third of the koalas in the NSW area could have been killed in the fires, and a third of their habitat is gone. Species such as the koala are not in any imminent danger of becoming extinct, but other smaller species have a much higher threat of extinction.
The situation has gotten so bad in NSW, that the government has sent in military help from all the branches in the Australian military. The Prime Minister of Australia has stated, “We’ve already got our Defense Forces providing helicopter search and rescue, ground transport, accommodation, meals and re-fueling. We’ve boosted our support for water bombing planes and helicopters by $11 million.” “This deployment will see Defense Liaison Officers positioned at all 14 Incident Control Centers in New South Wales with a list of equipment and support that can be made available. This will include bulldozers, bulk water carriers and troops”
The military isn’t working alone though, thousands of brave men and woman have volunteered as firefighters to help extinguish the fires that are devastating their homeland. There are currently thousands of volunteer firefighters on duty, and more nations, such as the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand have sent supplies and volunteers to help Australia. Firefighters are dealing with burns, coughs, loss of breathing, and some have died risking their lives for their country. In one of the more recent deaths, a firefighter was killed when a freak fire tornado lifted a firetruck off the ground.
If you are looking to help the situation in Australia, there are several organizations that are recommended to donate to. The Australian Red Cross, the Salvation Army Australia, and the NSW Rural Fire Service are all great places that I highly recommend. Even if it is only $1, that dollar could be put towards paying for a firefighters’ dinner or helping the baby animals trapped in the fires.