At least 23 people are dead, six more are missing and more than 1,500 homes have been destroyed as fires burned through more than six-million hectares of land.
Australia, the land of a sunburnt country has now been ablaze since September 2019, and there’s no end in sight.
From Queensland (QLD) to New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (VIC) and South Australia (SA), entire towns have been wiped out, hundreds of thousands of animals have died and the fire only continues to grow.
Even more devastating, 20 heroic citizens have lost their lives including several firemen.
To put the situation into a little more perspective as far as the area burned into relatable numbers. There has been over 3 million hectares burned in NSW alone since July 2019. Compare that to the 1.8 million hectares burned in the 2018 California wildfires and some 900,000 hectares that were lost in the 2019 Amazon fires.
The country is crippling under the weather conditions that are not providing any relief. Dense bushland and hard terrain accompanied by fuel loads on the ground are continuing to create dismay to those firefighters on the ground. As of Jan 3, temperatures are looking to rise to 45 degrees Celcius (113 Fahrenheit), with unfavorable wind conditions.
Just after New Year’s, myparistexas.com managing editor Katie Dixon found herself amongst a group of people in NSW that had to evacuate.
“I was staying with a friend and her family on their property in rural NSW, and with two fire fronts coming towards the town, we had to evacuate,” she said. “It wasn’t a case of ‘if’ it would hit, more like ‘when’ it would hit.”
At the time of print, Dixon is back in America, however, her friends are still unable to go home as the fire only gets closer and closer each day.
The small coastal town of Mallacoota (Mal-a-coot-a) made international headlines after more than 4,000 residents and tourists sought shelter in the ocean from the fire front that has now taken most of the town.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison coordinated efforts with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to enlist the Navy to help evacuate once they were safe to do so. With conditions still not completely favorable, the ADF advised Australian news outlets that they are taking approximately 1,000 people from Mallacoota each day by ship and as many as they can via Black Hawk helicopters and Chinook Helicopters for elderly and young children.
The NSW Rural Fire Service is the world’s largest volunteer fire service, with 72,491 volunteer members, although this figure includes many inactive volunteer firefighters and all support volunteers. They are organized into 2,002 brigades (local units).
That means the number of firefighters that have been responding to all fires spread throughout the country is nearly all volunteers.
There have also been reports that many of those volunteers have themselves lost their homes while their families have evacuated.
New Zealand firefighters hit the ground before Christmas to help relieve some of the Aussie’s that had been battling fires non-stop. Now just this week, according to the National Interagency Fire Center — the government agency that is coordinating the deployment of firefighters from the U.S. — roughly 100 firefighters have been sent to Australia over the last four weeks, with 50 to 60 more planned to be dispatched this week.
Canada is also sending firefighters to Australia for the first time. Stephen Tulle, a duty officer with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center, told CBC that a group of about 36 is assisting.
For now, the Australian people are bunkering down, evacuating if they can and sending what they can to those affected by the fires.
Frustration and anger is also continuing towards the Prime Minister and government officials, though they continue to say that they are working closely with those in the know and aren’t going to forget the Australian people that are in need.
NUMBERS as stated by SBS in Australia as at Jan. 5, 2020:
* 18 people dead
* 150 bushfires burning, 64 uncontained
* More than 3.6 million hectares burned, greater than the size of Belgium
* 1365 homes confirmed destroyed but number expected to rise significantly
* Two people dead, seven missing
* About 40 bushfires burning
* More than 970,000 hectares burned
* 330 structures confirmed destroyed but significantly more expected
* Three people dead
* 15 bushfires burning, four of significance
* More than 200,000 hectares burned
* 88 homes confirmed destroyed but number expected to rise significantly
* About 30 bushfires burning
* 250,000 hectares burned
* 45 homes confirmed destroyed
* 30 bushfires burning
* 1.5 million hectares burned
* One home confirmed destroyed
* 23 bushfires burning, three of significance
* 30,000 hectares burned
* Two homes confirmed destroyed
* No current bushfires
* Five homes confirmed destroyed
* No bushfires burning
* Significant smoke haze from interstate blazes
Photo: Kelly-ann Oosterbeek/matthew Abbott/Darren Pateman