Like some parts of Australia, California often has bushfires in summer. In the 2019 bushfire season which was a bad one, California lost around 250,000 acres in their state to bushfires. In 2018, their worst ever on record, California lost 1.8 million acres. We are now just 3 weeks into summer here in NSW. So far since spring (around September) we have lost almost 7 MILLION acres in NSW and we have 2 months of the fire season still to go and hotter weather to come. It’s insane. And unlike California where it is generally just that state, or those nearby, here we currently have fires out of control in South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria as well (there’s an additional 2.7 MILLION acres burning across other states in Australia too). This is unprecedented in its size. This is more than four times the size of the bushfires in the Amazon.
These fires are not in the remote outback. They are in country towns, they are in my area, they are in the outer suburbs of cities. Sydney is a big city and sprawls across about the same area as Los Angeles. We currently have one fire, out of control, that covers 1.1 million acres on the outskirts of Sydney – that’s just one fire. (the Gospers Mountain fire). We have bushfires pretty regularly, but not like this.
As well as size, our bushfires are very difficult to control. Aussie bush on the east coast is predominantly eucalyptus. If you’ve ever had a bottle of eucalyptus oil you’ll know it’s flammable. When eucalyptus trees get hot enough they literally explode. The oil vapor created fireballs, the embers fall and keep burning kilometers ahead of the fire and create new fires and if the fires are big enough they create pyrocumulous clouds with their own weather systems (just like volcanoes) sparking lightning and more fires.
And everything is dry. Really dry. We are in the middle of a drought and not forecast any decent rain for at least another month so these are currently almost impossible to contain. And with the country in such severe drought, not only is everything tinder dry to burn, but the water just isn’t there to fight it.
Hundreds of houses and thousands of other structures have been destroyed. Entire towns have been obliterated. People have been killed and injured – both firefighters and civilians. And the devastating impact on our iconic wildlife may be irreversible. The koala population in particular may never recover – there is talk that they may face extinction once the fires are over. There are aircraft, heavy machinery and thousands of paid and volunteer firefighters fighting this (NSW Rural Fire Service is the largest volunteer fire service in the world) but they have been working continuously since September, they are exhausted and there’s no end in sight.
So sadly there is no risk we will become like California — in scale and ferocity this has gone way way past the size of California in regards to bush fires. 😥 🔥
Thank you to all who have shared and care about us here in Australia ￼❤️ people have asked how they can help – help here https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/21/how-you-can-donate-and-help-the-volunteer-firefighters-in-australias-bushfire-crisis
Edit: I have updated the stats to include updated data. Sadly the numbers keep getting bigger.
PS for the people getting their knickers in a twist and getting all abusive thinking I’m belittling the Californian experience by saying how bad it is here, I’m not. Fires are all bad everywhere. Lives and property lost to fire is tragic. I’m just giving it context and scale so people understand how BIG this is with something my US family and friends can compare to. These fires are scary huge. Unprecedented size, even on a world scale, that’s all. sheesh! 🙄