Fires in New South Wales have been burning constantly and spreading since they erupted in November last year. So far over 14 million acres have burned – which is bigger than the area covered by Massachusets, Connecticut and Rhode island combined! Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes and evacuate since New Years eve.
The satellite image below from The Government Of Western Australia My Fire Watch site shows the hundreds of fires burning across the state.
Reports so far suggest around 20 people have been killed and more than 1300 homes have perished in the fires. The smoke from the ginormous fires is creating its own weather system and thunderstorms! The smoke from the fires is causing air pollution and has crept as far as New Zealand. This would be a nightmare for the children and the elderly and especially people with breathing issues such as asthma. One site reported that in the Australian capital of Canberra, an elderly woman developed respiratory distress and died after stepping out of a plane.
Animals have suffered devastating consequences, it is estimated millions of animals have been killed due to the fires burning down their habitat. One third of Koalas in New South Wales have been killed, and it is estimated about 30 percent of their habitat has been destroyed. The staggering number of native animals killed due to the bush fires is a huge blow to Australia’s unique ecosystem. There have been sad stories in the news about firefighters and other people saving badly burnt Koalas and providing water to thirsty animals. Horrific scenes also emerged of burnt livestock and native animals such as this Kangaroo which was burned alive and killed in the fires. Farmers have in some cases had to euthanize their cattle that were too badly injured by the ferocious blaze.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that three thousand Australian Defence Force Reservists would be deployed to assist in the mission, a move that Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said was a first in Australian history. In addition to this Mr Morrison also said that the Federal Government was going to invest an additional $20 million for the purpose of leasing four extra firefighting aircraft.
The Australian Navy is also assisting with rescue, evacuation and providing humanitarian aid. The HMAS Adelaide, Australia’s biggest Navy ship has been commissioned to provide assistance and sailed from Sydney to the New South Wales – Victorian border to provide disaster relief. The HMAS Adelaide is said to be fully equipped for disaster relief and to provide humanitarian aid, and has the capacity for 400 crew which includes medical personnel, and more than 200 tonnes of emergency supplies. The ship can also operate helicopters for air recovery which is necessary because many roads have been closed or are inaccessible due to the fires. A list of many of the roads affected can be found here.
Known personalities have also become involved in the relief effort. Comedian Celeste Barber created a fundraiser that has raised more than $20 million so far, and actor Nicole Kidman and partner Keith Urban have donated $500,000 to the firefighters. Tennis World No. 1 champion Ash Barty has pledged to donate each and every dollar of prize money that she earns from the upcoming Brisbane International. Other lesser known people have been appreciated for their courage and effort in providing assistance. One such person is Pharmacist Raj Gupta from the small own of Malua Bay in New South Wales. Mr Gupta lost his own home in the fires which ravaged his town which now has no electricity and mobile phone services. Instead of abandoning the town, the 52 year old Pharmacist is living in temporary accommodation and keeping his pharmacy open to provide health advice and medications to locals. Without power and phone services “We can’t take payments, but that’s not much of a concern” Mr Gupta says. He said the local residents were “honourable people” and will return to pay once the crisis settles.
If your would like to donate to the various causes related to the 2019/2020 Australian bush fires see the links below:
- Red Cross
- St Vincent De Paul Society
- Salvation Army
- Victorian Firefighters
- New South Wales Firefighters
- World Wildlife Fund
Additionally for the Gippsland Farmer Relief, PRD Ballarat staff are helping to transport food, water and toiletries to the Bairnsdale Relief Centre and those families in need of assistance. They are asking for non-perishable items and boxes. Please donate to:
To donate items, drop them off at 51 Lydiard Street South, Ballarat, from 9am to 5.30pm, alternatively call Kiara Porra 0447 834 892 for dropping off after-hours.
As the fires continue to burn we can only hope for mother nature to have mercy on Australia, and for Australians to come together and support each other through this horrific and devastating times.