Australian Wildfires

The Real Devastation

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Australian Wildfires

Ava Schneider, journalist

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It’s just the start of wildfire season in Australia, and this fire has already caused so much devastation and destruction.

How did the fires start?

The fires were started in two ways, lighting strikes, and human actions.

There were at least 24 people involved in the human actions part of starting of the fire. The 24 people involved are going to jail and could end up facing 21 years in prison.

There are around 103 fires. There are probably more considering how fast these fires have been progressing. There have been at least 25 people killed so far, and at least 2,000 homes have been destroyed.

The fires have been burning for several months, affecting approximately twelve million acres of land. The damages are estimated to cost around 485 million. Veterinarians and doctors have been saying that what they really need is money to help all of the animals and people with burns and other illnesses from the fire.

What about the animals in the fire?

Many animals have been badly hurt by the fire. In New South Wales alone, nearly one third of koalas have died along with their habitat. It is estimated that 30,000 koalas have been killed or injured in the Australian wild fires. Along with koalas, kangaroos have been killed directly by the fire.

One of the problems is that koalas protect themselves from predators by climbing up into trees. Going up into a tree in a fire is not the safest thing. Luckily a lot of good people have been trying to help by rescuing koalas and taking them to animal hospitals.

The University of Sydney estimates that 480 million animals have died in New South Wales alone. Overall in Australia the number of animals that have died in the fires be as high as one billion or more. The animals that have died from the fires include many types of birds, reptiles, and mammals.

It`s not just people getting hurt, you have to look beyond yourself and help the helpless like many are doing.

What do the people think?

Paula Uginov, a resident of Mogo New South Wales who lost her home due to the fire like many in Australia, told ABC News Chief Meteorologist, Ginger Zee, “It’s just so naked. It looks bizarre.” She is confident that Mogo, New South Wales will come together and rise up from the ashes like a phoenix. “I just think that the community will pull together even stronger,” she said. “I believe God can work through this and restore.”

The people of Australia have lost so much because of these horrid fires. The fires are likely to last several more months, meaning more heartbreak and devastation. On a happier note, firefighters and volunteers have saved about 1,687 homes and around 21,000 building and businesses.

Is rain helping?

A little bit of rain hit the Australian area earlier in the week of January 5th-11th. Lots of people around the world were hoping that the rain would provide relief and help firefighters contain and stop the fires. That’s not the case though.

Inspector Ben Shepord, with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service told ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee, “The rain actually hampered firefighters’ efforts to back burn, an essential in putting out wildfires.”

Back burning is a process where you start tiny fires in front of the main fire line. Doing this shrinks the amount of fuel that the main fire is available to get. The wetness makes it almost impossible for the firefighters to back burn. If the firefighters can’t back burn, they can’t put out the fires, meaning that the fires could get so much worse than they already are.

If the fires don’t go out, so many more homes could be destroyed, making many more in Australia homeless. Many more buildings and businesses could be destroyed leaving people without jobs. More people and animals could be taken over by the fires’ flames and die.

How are people escaping the flames?

Many roads in Australia are blocked due to the dangers of the fires. The only way out of the country is sea transport and airlifts.

Australia is urging their people to evacuate and bring only a few of their belongings because they want to get as many people out of the path of the fire as quickly as possible. If people don’t evacuate, they will be stuck there with no escape and possibly die.

Australia is not technically an island even though it is surrounded by water and not connected to any other land mass. The continent is too big to be called an island. But island or not, you can’t drive off of the continent.

Sources 

Zee, Ginger, and Ella Torres. “More than 1 Billion Animals Estimated Dead in Australia Wildfires: Expert.” Good Morning America, 8 Jan. 2020, www.goodmorningamerica.com/news/story/billion-animals-estimated-dead-australia-wildfires-68143966

Torres, Ella, and Ginger Zee. “Why the Rain in Australia Makes It Harder to Fight Wildfires.” ABC News, 7 Jan. 2020, 8:21, abcnews.go.com/International/rain-australia-makes-harder-fight-wildfires/story?id=68116978.

Gralow, Jill, and Wayne Cole. “Australia Urges People to Flee as Fires Set to Surge over the Weekend.” RUETERS, 2 Jan. 2020, 1:25, www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-bushfires-idUSKBN1Z11HE.