Aussies Struggle to Contain Bushfires as 'Mega' Blaze Emerges Along Coastline

Cheryl Sanders
December 8, 2019

Authorities and residents have found themselves overwhelmed as they try to battle wildfires in Australia, with some people being told blazes near their homes are now "too big" to extinguish.

Fires have raged crosswise over Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania.

What's the latest on the ground?

A "mega-fire" raging over a 60km (37 miles) front north-west of Sydney can't at present be put out, Australian fire authorities revealed.

Strong winds are stoking the blaze north of Sydney and in the state of New South Wales.

The severe nature of the blaze so early into the fire season has caused alarm and has reignited calls for more to be done about climate change.

At one point on Friday, nine fires had been raised to emergency level warnings, although these had decreased markedly amid a brief respite in conditions later in the day.

A giant bushfire on the edge of Sydney, which has blanketed the city in smoke causing a spike in respiratory illnesses and the cancellation of outdoor sports, will take weeks to control but will not be extinguished without heavy rains, firefighters said.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) said in a tweet that "several fires in the Hawkesbury, Hunter and Central Coast regions have now joined".

Video footage from the Orangeville space confirmed firefighters operating from a wall of fireplace and the Walkabout Wildlife Park has evacuated a whole lot of animals.

"We need flooding rain to put these fires out".

Crews from New Zealand and Canada are joining efforts to douse the flames.

There was some respite overnight but another dry and windy day is predicted.

He told the ABC it would allow firefighters "to really get in, consolidate and establish some containment lines" and conduct critical back-burning.

But he added: "We're not out of the woods yet".

December 10 is the next big concern, with temperatures inland of Sydney likely to reach above 40 degrees Celsius.

Some firefighters have expressed concern that volunteer numbers won't be sufficient and that there are insufficient water provides.

Sydney has been engulfed in toxic smoke for weeks and occasionally sprinkled with snow-like embers.

Is this fire season particularly bad?

Though the human toll has been far lower than the deadliest fire season in 2009 - when nearly 200 people died - the scale of this year's devastation has been widely described as unprecedented, as Australians grapple with the impacts of a changing climate.

More than 1.6 million hectares of land have burned in New South Wales alone.

The season has hit sooner than regular and has been exacerbated by drought circumstances. On Friday, more than 100 fires were burning across the country, and more than half of them were uncontrolled.

In mid-November, 14 mayors of fire-stricken areas signed a letter urging the government to acknowledge a correlation between climate change and the devastating bushfires, asking also for more funds.

The BOM says that climate change has led to an increase in extreme heat events and raised the severity of other natural disasters, such as drought.

Final week, the bureau famous that NSW had endured its driest spring season on report.

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