Wildfires

Circumnavigating Smoke

NASA satellite images show the thick pall of smoke from Australia’s firestorms, which reached South America last week, has blown entirely around the Southern Hemisphere, approaching Australia from the west.

Besides choking most of southeastern Australia, the smoke has also created an air pollution crisis downwind in New Zealand and darkened that country’s glaciers after falling on them as soot.

Meanwhile, days of rain are bringing some much-needed relief to Australia’s firefighters, but it won’t be enough to fully alleviate the threat of more than 140 fires that were still burning.

At least 80% of the Blue Mountains world heritage area and more than 50% of the Gondwana world heritage rainforests have burned in Australia’s ongoing bushfire crisis.

The scale of the disaster is such that it could affect the diversity of eucalypts for which the Blue Mountains world heritage area is recognised.

Wildfires

Australia’s prehistoric Wollemi pine trees saved from bushfires

An ancient grove of pine trees whose ancestors are thought to have stood tall among dinosaurs some 200 million years ago has been saved from Australian bushfires in a covert firefighting mission.

Firefighters in New South Wales (NSW) were enlisted by the local government to save the prehistoric Wollemi Pine grove, which exists in a secret location within the 5,000-square-kilometre (1,930-square-mile) Wollemi National Park northwest of Sydney.

The oldest fossil of the rare pine species dates back 90 million years and the pines are thought to have existed during the Jurassic period.

Large air tankers of fire retardant were dropped inside the remote grove as part of the mission, while specialist firefighters attached to helicopters were winched down to set up an irrigation system to protect the trees from catching alight. There are fewer than 200 Wollemi Pines left in the wild.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

Gale-force winds in Australia merged two enormous fires into a megablaze across land almost four times the area of New York City on Friday, while thousands rallied to again demand action on climate change. Temperatures soared above 40°C in parts of New South Wales and neighbouring Victoria. Australian authorities urged nearly a quarter of a million people to evacuate their homes and prepared military backup as soaring temperatures and erratic winds were expected to fan deadly wildfires across the east coast. Emergency alert text messages had been sent to 240,000 people in Victoria state alone, telling them to leave.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

The scope of the fires is hard to comprehend. In New South Wales alone, blazes have created a fire front in the state that — if put into a straight line — would stretch from Sydney, across the Indian Ocean, and into Afghanistan.

The smoke plume alone is currently about 1.3 billion acres, or half the size of Europe, and is drifting more than 1,000 miles over New Zealand, where it is choking and yellowing the skies.

So far the bushfires have chewed through more than twice the area that burned in Amazon’s rainforests during 2019.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

Bushfires burned dangerously out of control on Australia’s east coast on Saturday, fanned by high temperatures and strong winds that had firefighters battling to save lives and property, as a change in wind conditions merged several large fire fronts. By late evening, Victoria had 14 fires rated at emergency or evacuate warning levels, and New South Wales had 11 rated emergency, with more than 150 others burning across the states. New fires had started, and others had broken containment lines.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

Australian bushfires sparked in September have spread for months, leading to a state of emergency in many regions.

As of the new year, the blazes have scorched more than 14 million acres of land, killed about half a billion animals, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Researchers from the University of Sydney believe 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have been impacted in the state of New South Wales alone since the blazes first broke out in September.

The blazes are so large and widespread that satellites in space can easily photograph them from orbit.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

Thousands of tourists have been given less than 48 hours to evacuate fire-ravaged coastal communities as Australia braces for a weekend heatwave expected to fan deadly bushfires.

Catastrophic blazes ripped through the country’s south-east on New Year’s Eve, killing at least eight people and stranding holidaymakers. The New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service on Thursday morning declared a “tourist leave zone” stretching about 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the popular holiday spot of Bateman’s Bay along the picturesque coast to neighbouring Victoria state, where people are also being urged to flee.

A major operation to reach thousands of people stranded in fire-ravaged seaside towns was under way in Australia on Wednesday after deadly bushfires ripped through popular tourist spots and rural areas leaving at least eight people dead. Navy ships and military aircraft were deployed alongside emergency crews to provide humanitarian relief and assess the damage from the deadliest spate of blazes yet in a months-long bushfire crisis.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

Australia’s bushfire crisis has claimed at least three more lives, authorities confirmed on Tuesday, as dozens of fires tore through several towns on the east coast and forced thousands of people to take shelter on beaches. In Victoria, where more than 200,000ha has burned in the state’s east, at least four people were unaccounted for. The armed forces stand ready to evacuate those sheltering on the state’s beaches if needed. Eleven people have been confirmed dead across all states in this year’s bushfire season so far.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

Thousands of holidaymakers and locals were forced to flee to beaches in fire-ravaged southeast Australia Tuesday, as blazes ripped through popular tourist areas leaving no escape by land.

Four thousand people were trapped on the foreshore of the town of Mallacoota and many others sought refuge on beaches in fire-encircled seaside towns up and down a 200-kilometre (135-mile) strip of coast.

Some residents with boats even took to the sea, hoping for refuge from one the worst days yet in Australia’s months-long bushfire crisis.

Dozens of properties were feared to have been destroyed since late Monday and at least seven people were unaccounted for in New South Wales and Victoria states as flames reached well-populated towns like Batemans Bay.

In some places the blazes were so intense, the smoke so thick and the fire-provoked dry lightning storms so severe that aerial reconnaissance and waterbombing had to be halted, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said.

In Mallacoota, smoke turned day to night and the authorities said nearby fires were causing extreme thunderstorms and “ember attacks”. The bushfires in Australia are now so big that they are generating their own weather, in the form of giant thunderstorms that start more fires, according to the Bureau of Meteorology in Victoria. “Pyro-cumulonimbus clouds have developed to altitudes over 16km in East #Gippsland this afternoon. These fire-induced storms can spread fires through lightning, lofting of embers and generation of severe wind outflows.”

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

Victorian authorities have told thousands of visitors and residents in East Gippsland – an area half the size of Belgium – to leave immediately as a bushfire threat looms.

There were three active fires in east Gippsland on Sunday with a combined area of more than 130,000ha. An evacuation warning has been issued for the east Gippsland town of Goonergah, which is surrounded by high-value old growth forests.

East Gippsland is popular with campers and holidaymakers over the New Year period. Up to 30,000 people are on holiday at Lakes Entrance, 300km east of Melbourne.

Wildlife

Koalas starving and dying of thirst after bushfires destroyed their habitat

Koalas are starving to death because bushfires plaguing the country are destroying their food. The bushfires in the Adelaide Hills have burned 25,000 hectares of land and left koalas desperately searching for food and water. Its often at least four days before they are found. Koalas eat eucalyptus leaves – but thousands of trees have been decimated by fires.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

The number of homes razed by bushfires this season has climbed to almost 1,000, the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) says in its latest impact assessment.

After re-entering the charred remains of towns ravaged by fire in the past week, the RFS confirmed 873 homes had been destroyed since July 1. That figure is in addition to 100 homes believed destroyed since last Thursday, which the RFS has not yet included in its official count. The RFS said an additional 2,048 outbuildings and 68 facilities were levelled by the blaze.

Meanwhile, residents and travellers have been left stranded by extensive road closures caused by the bushfires. Hundreds of kilometres of roads, including major highways and busy arteries, around the state were closed in both directions.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia’s Bushfires And Scorching Heat Threaten Rare Animal Species

As bushfires rage amidst scorching temperatures across Australia, several animals have been reportedly dropping dead due to the extreme weather conditions. Unlike humans who have access to technology and easier access to water, animals are falling victims to temperatures as high as 50-degree C. Several locals have posted photos on social media showing birds who have fallen from heat exhaustion. While some survived, some could not. At the same time, Native Wildlife Rescue revealed their team has been rescuing hundreds of flying foxes who aren’t coping well with the heat.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

The devastation from Australia’s bushfire crisis became clearer on Sunday, as the South Australian premier said 72 homes had been destroyed and his New South Wales counterpart revealed there was “not much left” of the town of Balmoral, south-west of Sydney. It is feared the figures for homes lost may get much worse as authorities continue to assess the damage from Saturday, and with dozens of fires still active.