Australia is currently experiencing its worst bushfire on record. The fire stretches over the heavily populated southern and eastern coastline. As of this writing, more than four million hectares have burned. (For scale, one hectare is roughly the size of a European football field.) With temperatures set to soar to 49C (120F) this weekend, 3,000 Australian Defense Force troops have been deployed to join the thousands of volunteer and paid firefighters already on the front-lines.
What we know:
- Bushfires are typical around this time of the year in Australia, but this magnitude is unprecedented. Record temperatures and a drought season are believed to be highly contributing factors.
- These fires began in September, and have caused over 20 fatalities and destroyed 1500 homes.
- Additionally, it is believed that nearly half a billion animals have lost their lives.
- Fighting bushfires are often extremely difficult to contain, in part due to the flammable and explosive nature of the eucalyptus oil filling Australia’s forest of gum trees.
- If you are in Victoria, VIC Emergency has the latest information about road closures, recovery areas, financial and personal assistance. You can also download their mobile app.
- NSW Rural Fire Service is keeping their website, social media pages and mobile app up to date with information.
- You can also check Country Fire Authority (CFA) website for updates.
- For information about the air quality, please check this website for your local area.
- If you find yourself needing to evacuate, here is a list of tips on how to prepare.
How to Help:
- If you live in the area and have access to social media, mark yourself safe so friends and family don’t worry.
- If you are in an affected area, Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) has put out a fact sheet on what you can do to help your local wildlife.
- Following natural disasters, money is often more helpful than supplies, since it’s easier to get into the hands of people who need it. This is especially helpful if you live outside of the affected area. If you want to donate financially directly to NSW Rural Fire Service, you can go directly here.
- To support firefighters and victims in Victoria, you can go to the donation page for Country Fire Association or the Community Enterprise Foundation.
- For folks in Queensland, GIVIT has the ability to take monetary or physical donations. Check out their website to see how you can help.
- The CFS Foundation is supporting firefighters in the state of South Australia, where a new fire is tearing through Kangaroo Island.
- Because of the number of animals that have been affected by these fires, several organizations are looking for donations help and have published their wishlists. You can check out the RSPCA, World Wildlife Federation,and The Bushfire Foundation.