Heart-Wrenching, Intense Photos From The Australian Fires Consuming Their Continent

by Elana

In September of 2019, Australia kicked off one of the worst bush fire seasons the continent has ever seen.

According to CNN, so far 17.9 million acres of Australian land have been scorched.

Vox helped put those numbers in perspective with this quote: "That’s an area larger than West Virginia, and more than eight times the area that burned in California in 2018, the state’s most destructive year for wildfires."

However, that isn't even the most heart-wrenching statistic to come from the devastating flames.

Almost 2,000 homes have been destroyed, a number growing by the hundreds as the weeks linger on. Twenty-seven people have lost their lives.

And one of the most crushing stats is the estimated loss of animal life: 1 billion. Unfathomable.

There is also an understandable assumption by many in the scientific community that many of the ecosystems effected by the fires will have long-term consequences.

"To Our Nation's True Heroes - The Thousands Of Firefighters Currently Battling Fires Across Our Country, We Thank You From The Bottom Of Our Hearts"

According to NY Times, Australia's firefighter force is largely composed of volunteer efforts, and their government is mostly expecting them to work without pay despite 12 hour shifts and now months on end without working. This sentiment has caused understandable outrage from the community towards their Prime Minister.

...Members of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, which represents firefighters in Australia, said at a news conference that it was “bewildering” that the government expected volunteer firefighters to work for months on end without compensation.

"Neighbours Helping Out Strangers During The Australian Bushfires. Everything Helps And It All Adds Up!"

According to the Red Cross:

The pace at which the bushfires have spread and the subsequent heavy smoke have made it difficult for emergency services to access and evacuate some communities, at times forcing residents to flee to beaches and other water bodies to avoid impact and await rescue.

"Since The Fire Has Passed Through Mallacoota This Amazing, Selfless Young Guy Has Been Out Searching For Injured Wildlife. This Is One Of 7 Koalas He's Saved So Far"

Sarah Legge, an ecologist at the Australian National University, is studying how animals respond to the fire and said:

Hundreds of species have been affected by these fires. That includes many dozens of threatened species; some of these will be brought to the brink of extinction as a result of this event. And if they’re not made extinct by this event, I think this is the beginning of the end for them. Because this event will reoccur. It’s awful. It will be ecosystem collapse in a lot of cases. And we’re not exactly sure what we’ll end up with at the end of it all.

"The Kangaroo Is Drenched In Water After Approaching A Human For Help"

According to Vox:

Australia is one of the great biodiversity hotspots in the world. The island continent was isolated from the rest of the world for millions of years, allowing evolution to take strange new paths, and until fairly recently, with little human influence.

"I'm So Proud Of My Country, Our Volunteer Firefighters Are Legends In Their Own Category"

According to Vox:

Australia’s government created a new National Bushfire Recovery Agency to help fund fire relief and authorized payments to volunteer firefighters, some of whom have now spent months on duty.

"Quite Literally Watching Your World Burn"

In some areas, the smoke in the air has the same impact upon inhaling as smoking almost 40 cigarettes.

"This Fire Fighter (And All Ff’s) Saving The People, Animals, And Homes In Australia"

David Smart, captain of the volunteer firefighters in the Kangaroo Valley, 100 miles south of Sydney, said last month:

I think everyone is very stressed. People are tired. It’s been going for weeks on end.

"After Spotting A Koala Crossing A Road Amongst The Flames A Woman Rushed To The Animal’s Aid, Wrapping It In Her Shirt And Pouring Water Over It"

Did you know? Around 244 species of mammals are found only in Australia.

via: KETKnbc

"My Family Have Been Fighting These Fires On Our Farm And Our Community Nonstop For Over A Month"

In the past, "fire season" spread fires out over time and were easier to manage.

"Amazingly Surreal Photo Of The Bush Fire In Australia"

The US Environmental Protection Agency explains where the biggest health threat from smoke comes from:

These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis. Fine particles also can aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases — and even are linked to premature deaths in people with these conditions.

"Exhausted Firefighters In Australia"

According to NY Times:

Sandra Lunardi, the acting chief executive of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, which coordinates firefighting efforts, said it would be difficult to institute a compensation system.
“To pay firefighters to be present in the numbers necessary and in the places necessary to give quick response to bush fires” in rural Australia was “a significant challenge, particularly when these fires are prolonged and frequent,” Ms. Lunardi wrote by email.

"Firefighter Saved This Little Baby Kangaroo That Was Left By Its Self"

Baby kangaroos live in their mother's pouch for 8 to 11 months, depending on which breed they are.

"Australia Fires"

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s 2018 State of the Climate report:

Australia’s climate has warmed by just over 1° C since 1910, leading to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events.

"3D “Visualisation” Of The Fires In Australia, Made From Nasa Satellite Data"

Incredible.

"My Uncle At The End Of A 13 Hour Shift Volunteering With Nsw Rfs"

According to Vox:

After a major disaster, studies find a 5 percent to 15 percent increase in the incidence of mental health problems among survivors. That means the impacts of these devastating blazes will linger long after the last embers are snuffed out.

"Australian Hillside Glows Like Lava After Being Consumed By Bushfire"

National Geographic reports:

...Scientists fear that when rains eventually fall, they will wash charred debris into rivers, dams, and the ocean, killing wildlife and even tainting the drinking supplies of major cities, such as Sydney.

"Caught The Smoke As It Was Spreading Over Our Suburb In Australia"

The Red Cross reports:

“The intensity and size of bushfires in some areas has led to the creation of their own weather systems generating pyrocumulonimbus clouds, trapping heat and generating strong wind and lightning strikes, in turn sparking further fires.”

"Firefighters Literally Dance In Joy As Rain Falls Over Raging Bush Fires That Have Burned Across Australia For Weeks"

Ross Thompson, a freshwater ecologist at the University of Canberra told Nat Geo:

Disturbance on this scale is almost certainly going to impact biodiversity. I’m remarkably worried about the effects on freshwater ecosystems.

"Hell Opens Up In Australia. Thoughts Go Out To Our Brave Fire Fighters"

Emma Johnston, a marine ecologist at UNSW told Nat Geo:

The scale of these fires are unprecedented, and the images we are seeing of ash- and soot-laden waves along our beaches indicate that there is a very high density in the water column, so that is likely to have localized effects in those areas.
via: Geng68

"Bushfire Evacuation"

David Bowman, the director of the Fire Centre Research Hub at the University of Tasmania, told TIME:

We’re in the middle of a war situation…mass evacuations, the involvement of the military, hugely exhausted firefighting campaigns, it’s difficult to explain.

"In Australia After A Fire"

Bowman also said:

The intensity, the scale, the number, the geographical range, the fact that they’re occurring simultaneously, and the sorts of environments that are burning are all extraordinary

"So Tired"

Firefighters from both Canada and the United States have flown into Australia to help aid in firefighting efforts.

"No Filters. Australia Is Red From Wildfires"

The #nofilter hashtag has been startling as it makes it's way across social media. The colors in the sky could shake you to your core.

"My Son Is 1 Month Old, He's Never Breathed Fresh Air In His Life"

Victoria’s state emergency commissioner Andrew Crisp said:

It is pitch-black. It is quite scary… the community right now is under threat, but we will hold our line and they will be saved and protected.

"A Picture One Of The Local Postmen Took From His Front Yard. This Was In Forster"

According to Vox:

The smoke is so plentiful that NOAA reports it’s “in the process of circumnavigating the planet,” showing up over South America after being pushed there by the wind.

"The Fires From Australia Are So Massive That We Our Skies In New Zealand Have Turned Yellow (1,600 Miles Away)"

Most of New Zealand is able to visibly see the impact despite the distance between them.

"How Big The Fires Are"

The last few years have been pretty brutal for fires, but Australia's bushfires are taking the cake right now.

via: twkpsh

"6 Deaths. 2.2 Million Hectares Burnt. 680 Homes Destroyed. Countless Animals Lost. And No End In Sight..."

An incredible image, a brutal reality.

"This Is A Pyrocumulus Cloud Produced By Smoke From The Australian Bushfires. It’s 12km High. It Produces Its Own Thunderstorms, Fire Tornadoes And 100km/H Winds"

A whole new world.

"Do You See This? This Is Our World. 4000 People Are Currently Sheltering From The Devastating Fires In Australia On A Beach. Photos Taken In Mallacoota In Victoria"

It looks like the Apocalypse.

"Australia Is Currently Engulfed By Bushfires ... Almost 2000 Houses Have Been Burnt"

The numbers continue to climb.

"Australia Fires"

It would be beautiful if it wasn't so horrifying.

"Australia Bush Fire"

Is this Hell?

"11-Year-Old Finn Piloting A Powerboat"

Kids grow up devastatingly fast in times of extreme events.

"This Is What My City Melbourne Looks Like Right Now !!! The Air Quality Here Is Terrible"

Undoubtedly, the air quality has a long way to go now.

"Area Of Land Burnt In Australia And Area Of Smoke Coverage Shown As Equivalent Area Over Europe"

This perspective is... hard.

"One Of The Hundred Of Homes Destroyed By The Australian Fires"

Almost unrealistic.

"Over A 1000 People Forced Onto A Beach By Out Of Control Fires. They Are Surrounded With No Escape Except To Swim"

Unfathomable.

"This Photo Isn't Edited. Bushfires In Australia"

It could easily feel like the end of the world.

"A Satellite Image Shows Wildfires Burning East Of Obrost, Victoria, Australia January 4, 2020"

It's hard when it's a little beautiful, but it's only a little beautiful from the safety of distance. The harsh reality is too much.

"Australia Is One Of The First Countries To Ring In 2020, Here Is What We Are Waking Up To On The Last Day Of This Decade. Happy New Year."

"Happy" New Year

via: KettyJ

"Yesterday Was One Crazy Day. I Helped Defend Friends Property From The Fire At Nth Durras"

This picture is stunning and horrifying.

"Paracombe 34, Langley Rd Gumeracha, Cudlee Creek Bushfire, South Australia"

Burning. Burning.

"Australia Fired"

Intense colors.

via: bbc

"Hill Of "Lava""

When there's enough fire to look like lava...

"A Picture Of The Fires Burning In Australia Right Now. It Looks Like Hell"

It really does look like Hell.

"Evacuation On The Beach"

Beaches are supposed to be a source of fun and comfort.

"Area Of Land Burnt In Australia Compared To The Size Of Ireland"

The perspectives are always intense.

"Apocalyptic Image Of Sydney’s Bush Fires"

So. Much. Smoke.

"No Filter. A Motel In Nsw Australia In Middle Of The Day"

Very orange. Very scary.

For people who feel helpless but want to help: The World Wildlife Fund is collecting donations to restore habitats for koalas impacted by the fires. You can also donate to the Australian Red Cross’s fire recovery and relief fund.

Share your thoughts in the comment section now.

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