Last month's Australian bushfires set the world ablaze with activist groups; video gamers and celebrities alike called on one another to help support the cause. While much of the media attention surrounding the bushfires has subsided, have the flames themselves died out?
The bushfires, which began on January 6, have devastated parts of Australia including New South Wales, Victoria, Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra. They burned down tens of millions of acres of land and led to hundreds of thousands of people being displaced, over two dozen human deaths, and as well as 1.25 billion animals dying. Haunting photos of koala remains burnt by the fires have surfaced online, serving as a testament to the inflicted harm.
Wildfires are a natural part of Australia’s cycle into summer, but their current scale was unprecedented and extremely dangerous. Warnings about the intensity of this fire season had been projected in January. Members of the emergency response team in Sydney compared the fire to the size of thirty-three countries combined. A state of emergency was declared in New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital territory. In the midst of the havoc caused by the fires, the response to the bushfires has been tremendous with countries around the world offering their support.
The New South Wales South Coast community banded together to provide relief. In the midst of the bushfires, some zookeepers took measures to protect animals by bringing some of the housed animals into their own homes. Additionally, video game streamers named Redzy (from the UK) and Blarg (from France) released charity video streams in order to support the cause. Despite the bushfires, the zoo at Mogo in New South Wales was able to welcome a baby lion cub named Phoenix into their zoo community after the evacuations were lifted. The zoo was even able to reopen, as the bushfires have finally dwindled.
On February 13, the state of New South Wales publicly released confirmation that the fires were officially “contained.” Bouts of heavy rain played a large role in this development. The Environmental Protection Agency had instituted incident air monitors across Victoria, but with the improving air quality they have been able to gradually remove them. Currently, the air quality throughout Victoria is rated as “Good.”
Despite the ongoing presence of fires, some residents and property owners have been able to move back into their home communities. The Victorian government has also instituted a bushfire cleanup program in order to have the waste from destroyed or damaged buildings disposed of by licensed contractors. Nevertheless, firefighters remain alert due to the temperatures in Victoria and New South Wales that are still exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
With the help of agencies around the world, hopefully Australia can again find a sense of normalcy and rebuild. Although there has been improvement, Australia still needs assistance in making repairs. To support this process, individuals can donate to the Australian Red Cross and other charities. The unusual intensity of these fires serves as an additional warning about the dangers of continuing practices which contribute to global warming.