I’m not sure why I’m writing a post about this, perhaps just the feeling that I need to speak out and say something, because I’m not there, not able to physically do something to help in any way. To those who don’t know details, don’t understand what is going on here in Australia at the moment, the country is on fire. The country has been on fire for a while but it’s getting worse a month into Summer and already over 12 million acres have burnt.
12 million acres is a fairly arbitrary number, it’s hard to imagine how much that might be. You might remember earlier in 2019 there were fires in the Amazon which was met by world outrage, world wide calls for action. So how my burned over there? Just over 2 million acres.
Today it’s the 1st of January 2020, the start of a new year, a new decade and only a month into summer, there’s still a long way to go before these fires are going to stop and who knows how much will end up burned. We’ve had fires burning since August but over the last 4 weeks or so things have reached a new crescendo with new years day being one of the worst days in living memory with temperatures well over 40 degrees and strong winds.
It’s now the 4th of January, yesterday estimates of native animals killed suggested over 500,000,000 but no one really knows. So far 19 people are confirmed dead with 30 people still missing and over 1400 homes destroyed. Today there are 140 fires burning in NSW, 50 fires in Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Qld each have about 30 fires while South Australia has around 20 including 3 very significant fires. Canberra has had the worst air pollution of any city around the world with smoke blanketing the city, New Zealand has been covered in smoke from the fires burning over 4000kms away.
Now today on the 4th of January conditions are expected to be worse than new years day with temperatures again hitting well over 40 degrees with strong winds. Many areas in both NSW and Vic have been evacuated ahead of these conditions. Evacuations themselves have not been easy because of a lack of supplies, those fuel stations with fuel often don’t have power to pump the fuel. Fuel is being rationed in any places and most require cash to pay for it.
Some coastal communities like Mallacoota evacuated to the beaches on New years morning as the fires hit their town, there were an estimated 4000 people on the beach as the town burned, and now 3-4 days later the navy is beginning to ship them out in naval vessels as the only roads in aren’t expected to be open for many days.
Fires in Western Australia have cut off the state from the rest of the country, the highway across the Nullabor has been closed for 5 days and looks set to be closed for at least another 5 days as 140 fire fighters battle the fire fronts. Emergency services report that there are around 250 people sheltering at the Caiguna Roadhouse waiting for the roads to reopen while catastrophic fire conditions are pushing the mercury up to 47 degrees. Each roadhouse along the Nullabor is packed with truckies and holiday makers and emergency supplies have been airlifted into Caiguna, Cocklebiddy and Madura for the stranded travelers. There’s no accommodation, people are sleeping in their cars or on the ground. Travelers are being turned back at Eucla in South Australia as the supply situation along the 1600km section of the Eyre highway becomes dire.
Western Australia is starting to have shortages of fresh produce and some medicines as this is the second time now the roads have been cut since mid December because of fires.
Watch this video of a fire truck being overcome by a fire front. Turn the volume up and listen to the calmness of the firies as they go about their “job”.
Shortly afterwards their truck broke down, door handles and plastic pieces on one side of the truck had melted away and some hoses on the engine had melted. They left the truck and escaped the area in media and other fire vehicles.
Here some Rosedale residents escape to the beach and watch their house burn from some relative safety.
Meanwhile our government sits on it’s hands. I really don’t want to go into detail about the blatant uselessness of our prime minister as he swings from complacency to assault of fire victims. Perhaps it’s best to link an article here from The New York Times which sums up the current situation beautifully.
Click the image below.
I’ll add to this in the coming days.
ANd on it goes, 2 days ago we broke all sorts of records not just having the hottest city in the world but the top 10 hottest cities anywhere in the world all in Australia. Lets say that again, the hottest 10 cities anywhere in the world were all in Australia. Sydney had it’s hottest day on record with 48.9 degrees, Canberra also had it’s hottest day ever at 44 degrees. Hot dry winds also came with the scorching heat with wind gusts up to 80km/h. Years of drought so there’s tinder dry bush, strong winds, the hottest temperatures anywhere in the world and hundreds of fires already burning all over Australia, sounds like a recipe for disaster right?
Yeah no joke. On the 5th January we are now up to 16 million acres burnt across Australia, 1300 homes destroyed and 25 people killed. After two significantly cooler and calmer days there are still around 140 fires burning in NSW alone. Isolated towns are cut off and some have been for almost a week food is running out rapidly, communications are down, power has been out for many days, fuel supplies are low or nonexistent. There’s no cash available in many towns yet cash is the only way to pay for things. Existing water supplies are heavily contaminated, and a water reservoir in cooma on top of a hill collapsed sending a flod into the town below seriously damaging houses. There’s a strange one for the insurance company, while everyone is claiming for fire dame these people are suffering flood damage.
Bushfires ravaged the 4,400 sqkm Kangaroo island burning about 1/3 of it destroying unique habitats for some of Australia’s rarest animals. The glossy black cockatoo is only found on Kangaroo island and much of their habitat is destroyed. The reality of the destruction of animals is that we will never know the true cost, there are animals as yet undiscovered which are no wiped out. And not just animals, the critically endangered wollemi pine, one of w=the worlds oldest and rares plants was only discovered in the 1980’s. It’s location was kept secret as there are only less than 100 trees in a handful of locations. Its not known whether there are any left at the moment.