A total of 24 people has lost their lives, and in the state of New South Wales(NSW) alone, more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency in November. State and federal authorities have been struggling to contain the massive fires, even with the assistance from other countries, including the United States.
Nearly half a billion animals, including mammals, birds, and reptiles have lost their lives in New South Wales alone. About 30 percent of the koala's habitat has been wiped out. This devastation adds pressure on Australia's unique ecosystems.
WHERE ARE THE FIRES?
Australia has been hit by fires, of that New South Wales has been hit the hardest. Blazes tore through bushland, wooded areas, and national parks. Some of Australia's largest cities have been affected where fires have damaged homes in the outer suburbs.
WHAT IS CAUSING THE FIRES?
Every year, there is a fire season during the summer season with hot, dry weather making it easy for blazes to start.
Natural causes are to be blamed most of the time, like lightning strikes in drought-affected forests. Dry lightning was responsible for starting a number of fires in the Victoria region. Humans also partly responsible for starting the fires, NSW police have charged with at least 24 people with deliberately starting bushfires.
WHY ARE THE FIRES SO BAD?
The fires have always been dangerous ”the 2009 Black Saturday fires killed 173 people in Victoria, the deadliest bushfire disaster on record. Australia is experiencing the worst droughts in decades with temperatures going above 40 degrees Celsius. Strong winds made the fires spread more rapidly and have led to fatalities. Climate change has worsened the scope and impact of natural disasters, making the weather conditions go extreme.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE DAMAGE SO FAR?
A lot of towns have been engulfed in flames, residents across several states have lost their homes. The heaviest damage occurred in NSW, where 1,588 homes have been destroyed.
In total, more than 7.3 million hectares (17.9 million acres) have been burned across Australia's states.
Half a billion animals have been affected across NSW, with millions of them likely dead. Almost a third of koalas have been killed on the fires, and a third of their habitat has been destroyed.
WHAT IS BEING DONE?
State and federal authorities have been working to fight the fire crisis for months. In January, Victoria declared a state of disaster and NSW declared a state of emergency- giving them additional government resources to battle the fires. There are more than 2,000 firefighters working on the ground in NSW and the US, Canada, and New Zealand have sent additional firefighters to help.
The federal government sent in military assistance like army personnel, air force aircraft, and navy cruisers for evacuation, search and rescue, and firefighting. The Morrison administration allocated 3 billion Australian dollars, in federal aid, to help rebuild vital infrastructure.