Australia is facing a national crisis as across the nation communities are being destroyed by bushfires. These bushfires are a well-known threat to native Australians and the importance of fire management is something everyone takes very seriously.
Over the years the fire season has been getting longer which decreases the amount of time necessary to perform hazard reduction burns. Furthermore, over the past few months, Australia has experienced high temperatures with powerful winds along with a lack of rain and low soil moisture. Small fires easily grow in size within these conditions and now the country is seeing fires reach a level of ferociousness on a scale that is unprecedented.
2019 was the hottest year on record in Australia which only increased the risk of bushfires. Now, the fires that began in September have continued burning and thus far have released an estimated 350 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. There are fires raging in every state, with some of the largest being in Victoria and New South Wales. Almost six million hectares have been burned, an estimated 480 animals have been killed or affected, and at least 20 people have died due to the bushfires.
Most of the fires are burning in rural areas where the chief firefighting organizations are volunteers. These men and women are often performing their work, unpaid, to help protect the lives and homes of their neighbours. Canadians and Americans have sent firefighters and experts to help try and control the fires and more are expected to arrive in January. The Australian government now has plans to send military support to help assist in the recovery and evacuation efforts.
Since it’s only the beginning of summer the hot and dry conditions are expected to persist through March and April which makes it extremely difficult to predict when the fires will end. Recent rain has alleviated some of the blazes, however, the there are still months left in the fire season.
For anyone who has been watching the news coverage on television the images are harrowing. In most photos, all that is visible are the blazes or the sky which is completely orange and hazy. The Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge have been disappearing under a smokey hazy off and on for the past few months.
It’s impossible to watch the coverage of these fires and not want to help. So if you’re inclined to lend whatever you can towards the people who are affected and fighting these fires, here are a few ways to do so.
Make a donation to the Australian Red Cross, the charity is supporting thousands of people who have fled their homes and are in evacuation centres. The donations the charity receives go towards helping people prepare and protect themselves for disasters, training, equipment, and recovery programs. The St. Vincent De Paul Society is accepting donations so that they can provide people with food, clothing, and other essentials that they’ve lost due to the bushfires. Lastly, the NSW Rural Fire Service will accept donations to help the volunteer firefighters and their families. The Victorian Bushfire Relief organization is also accepting donations to help support their affected communities along with many other fire service organizations across the country.
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