Australia Is Battling Some of the Most Dangerous Wildfires

The 2019–20 Australian bushfire season has burned an estimated 5,900,000 hectares (15,000,000 acres; 59,000 km2; 23,000 sq mi), destroyed over 2,500 buildings (including over 1,300 houses) and killed at least 22 people, with a further 28 missing in the state of Victoria. From November 2019, it heavily impacted various regions of the state of New South Wales, such as, the North Coast, Mid North Coast, the Hunter Region, the Hawkesbury and the Wollondilly in Sydney’s far west, the Blue Mountains, Illawarra and the South Coast, with more than 100 fires burnt across the state. In Eastern Victoria large areas of forest burnt out of control for four weeks before the fires emerged from the forests in late December, taking lives, threatening many towns and isolating Corryong and Mallacoota. A State of Disaster was declared for East Gippsland. Moderately affected areas were South Eastern Queensland, the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island in South Australia, and areas of southwestern Western Australia, with a few areas in Tasmania and the ACT being mildly impacted.

In December 2019, the state government declared a state of emergency in New South Wales after record-breaking temperatures and prolonged drought exacerbated the bushfires. The political ramifications of the fire season have been significant. A decision by the New South Wales Government to cut funding to fire services based on budget estimates, as well as a holiday taken by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, during a period in which two volunteer firefighters died, and his perceived apathy towards the situation, resulted in controversy. As temperatures were forecast to reach 41 °C (106 °F), the New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian called a fresh seven-day state of emergency with effect from 9am on 3 January 2020.

Reinforcements from all over Australia were called in to assist fighting the fires and relieve exhausted local crews in New South Wales. On 11 November it was reported that the Country Fire Authority (CFA) was sending in a large contingent of up to 300 firefighters and support staff from Victoria. More than 100 firefighters had been sent from Western Australia as of 14 November 2019. Contingents were also sent from South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. On 12 November the Federal government announced that the Australian Defence Force was providing air support to the firefighting effort, as well as preparing to provide manpower and logistical support. Firefighters from New Zealand, the United States and Canada helped fight the fires, especially in New South Wales.

On 12 November 2019, catastrophic fire danger was declared in the Greater Sydney region for the first time since the introduction of this level in 2009 and a total fire ban was in place for seven regions, including Greater Sydney. The Illawarra and Greater Hunter areas also experienced catastrophic fire dangers and other parts of the state, including the already fire ravaged parts of northern New South Wales. As of 1 January 2020, 3.6 million hectares (8.9 million acres) has been burnt or is burning in New South Wales.

Find news, multimedia, reviews and opinion on Pakistan, politics, sports, economy, travel, books, education, …