Australia is burning
Sydney: Australian authorities began assessing the damage on Sunday from heatwave-spurred bushfires that swept through two states a day before, as cooler conditions provided a temporary respite from blazes that have scarred the country’s east coast for months. Light rain and cooler temperatures in the southeast of the country have been a welcome change from the searing heat that has fuelled the catastrophic fires, but officials cautioned they were not enough to put out nearly 200 fires still burning. ‘It certainly is a welcome reprieve, it is psychological relief if nothing else,’ New South Wales (NSW) state Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons stated in an afternoon briefing on the circumstance.
‘But unfortunately it’s not putting out the fires.’ January 5, 2020 fallen powerlines continue to smoulder in paddocks along the Princes Highway near in Milton, Australia. Photo: Reuters/Tracey Nearmy Tens of thousands of homes in both NSW and Victoria states were without power on Sunday as a large-scale military and police effort continued to provide supplies and evacuate thousands of people who’ve been trapped for days in coastal cities by the fires. Initial estimates put damaged or destroyed properties in the hundreds, but police said the mass evacuations by residents of at-risk areas appear to have prevented the significant loss of life.
Twenty-four people have been killed since the beginning of this year’s wildfire season. Fire officials said temperatures were expected to climb during the week and the next significant flashpoint would come by Thursday, but it was too early to gauge the likely severity of the threat. ‘The weather activity we’re seeing, the scope and spread of the flames, the pace at which they are going, the manner in which they are attacking communities who have never seen fire is unprecedented,’ NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian stated. Thousands of people have been evacuated from coastal cities at the peak of the summer holiday season, in one of the biggest coordinated operations because the evacuation of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy flattened the northern city in 1974. Australia has been battling blazes across much of its east coast for decades, with experts saying climate change has been a significant factor in a three-year drought that has left much of the country’s bushland tinder-dry and susceptible to fires.
Bushfires Sweep Across Southeast Australia, two More Killed Following are highlights of what is happening across Australia: – Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Singapore and Papua New Guinea have made offers of military support; New Zealand was sending an extra three Air Force helicopters and crews, two Army Combat Engineer Sections, and a control element to support Australian Defence efforts. – As the smoke cleared, about 350 people were expected to be airlifted from the Victorian town of Mallacoota on Sunday, where approximately 1,000 people were evacuated by sea on Friday. That would leave about 400 individuals who had chosen to stay in the community, The Age newspaper reported. – No fires were burning out of control in New South Wales, but four fires in Victoria had Evacuate Now or Emergency Level warnings.
A threat earlier on Sunday to the NSW town of Eden had eased by late afternoon, and police said the evacuation was no longer necessary. – Haze from the fires was turning heavens orange as far away as New Zealand; authorities there asked people to not call the emergency telephone number. – In Canberra, officials asked for 100,000 extra breathing masks from the national stockpile as the nation’s capital recorded the worst air quality in the world on Sunday, according to the IQAir AirVisual global indicator. The masks are expected to arrive on Monday.