By Peter Blanch
Teaching Educator and Part Time Lecturer (Science)
As our summer rolls on in Australia, people in NSW and Victoria are feeling more than the heat from the sun. The heat is up on the Federal and State Governments that have reduced the funding to the Rural Bushfire Brigades even though many climate scientists, past Commissioners of Rural Bush Fire Brigade warned and predicted that the situation that is now occurring all over Australia would occur.
The fires have been devastating to say the least and have been fanned by their own weather patterns. The enormity of the fire size is almost incomprehensible to all Australians and the fact that the fires have been burning since the end of October, which is our spring, and haven’t abated is quite disturbing. Whole villages and towns have been wiped out with the ferocity of the fires melting iron and burning the tarmac of major highways, limiting the ability to access the fire front. Flames of up to three to four stories high are burning at the forefront of the fires and some residents and vacationers have had to drive their cars with their family and all their possessions that they could grab into shallow lakes, and even then still being showered with embers.
The size of the fire devastation has never in recorded history been as big as this years across all states. The fires continue to rage out of control and lives and property continue to be lost. The forecast of rain is the only hope of really bating what has been the worst natural disaster in Australia’s recorded history. While some fires may have been lit by arsonists, the majority of fires have been started by lightning strikes hitting the tinder dry bush.
Entire towns have been razed to the ground, and volunteer firefighters have been working continually around the clock since October to try and fight a losing battle. These brave men and women have put their lives on the line to save properties while some of them have lost their homes while saving others.
On a personal note, my 87 year old mother lives in the town of Batemans Bay,(pop 16 000 approx.) and during the fire period, which lasted for about a week, there were continual blackouts, evacuation warnings at 6:00 am, lines of communication down for mobile phones and for house phones and a continual atmosphere of well above safe zone for breathing. The smoke clouds, which are still covering most of NSW, were so thick where my mother lives, that the day turned to night, with temperatures reaching in excess of 40 degrees Celsius. Our favourite town of Mogo that my mother and I would visit to have afternoon tea and visit the private zoo has been totally razed to the ground. Fortunately, the zoo was protected and the animals are OK, thanks to amazing zookeepers and residents. The worst part of the situation is that I was 300km away in Sydney and couldn’t do anything as the roads in and out were closed and people were warned to stay away from the South Coast. Like most horrific stories, when they become personal, they really do become horrific.
Donate to #Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund. It’s been estimated that around 1.25 billion animals have been killed across Australia to date. This includes thousands of koalas and other iconic species such as #kangaroos, #wallabies, #kookaburras, #cockatoos and #honeyeaters burnt alive, and many thousands more injured and homeless. Let's take a step to help nature to restore again.