The Eastern coast of Australia has been dealing with a growing wildfire problem for months. The fires have grown to an unprecedented size in recent weeks. Saturday was one of the hottest days on record in Sydney, Australia with temperatures reaching 104° F. These high temperatures combined with low humidity caused the situation to worsen . Consequently, 100,00 people in the Southeast region of the continent were evacuated over the weekend as the fires continued to spread, per Al Jazeera.
According to The Associated Press, over 12 million acres of land in Australia has been burned. For reference, that’s nearly the size of West Virginia. The fires have been burning for nearly 5 months now with no end in sight. Normally rain helps to stop these wildfires from getting this problematic, though Australia is currently enduring a major drought. Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated:”the ferocity and the absence of dousing rains that would normally bring a season like this under control is nowhere in sight.”
Wildfires are a common occurrence in Australia, especially this time of year. However, a fire of this size is unprecedented. NPR reports that the death toll has risen to 24 and that thousands of families have lost their homes. Many people have been stranded for days on beaches along the coast, unable to leave due to the encroaching fires.
Skies turned bright red on the beach in southeast Australia on Sunday as deadly bushfires continue to burn.
— ABC News (@ABC) January 6, 2020
This past week the Australian government took action by deploying their largest Navy ship to rescue citizens stranded along the beaches. They also sent 3,000 reservists to help evacuate local residents throughout the southeast. Australia hasn’t seen military deployment this great since World War II via NPR.
Sydney Suburb Becomes Hottest Place on Earth As Temps Reach 120 Degrees; Wildfire Death Toll Reaches 23
One of the biggest concerns of these wildfires is the permanent effect they will have on the ecosystem. Over half a billion animals have died already and countless more have been displaced. Stuart Blanch, a forest and woodland conservation policy manager at the World Wildlife Fund-Australia, told NBC News that there are concerns that entire species have been wiped out. Many endangered species across the continent may never recover.