Australia’s biggest fire has destroyed an area seven times the size of Singapore and it is still spreading.
The Gospers Mountain fire, which began on the afternoon of 26 October, was started by a lightning bolt near a disused airstrip in a densely grown area of the Wollemi National Park, west of Sydney in NSW, Australia.
The fire was virtually inaccessible by land and by the end of the first day had spread to 521 hectares.
Now it has destroyed 500,000 hectares from the western border of the Blue Mountains to the Central Coast hinterland, north to the Hunter Valley and south to the Hawkesbury and past the Bells Line of Road. Three weeks ago it combined with several fires to form a vast complex that has been dubbed “the mega fire”. To those living in its shadow, it is known as “the monster”, wrote the Sydney Morning Herald.
The NSW Rural Fire Service said the scale of the bushfires is “unprecedented” for this time in the season.
The total area burned in NSW has reached 3.41 million hectares, according to the RFS.
“To put it in perspective, in the past few years we have had a total area burned for the whole season of about 280,000ha,” RFS spokeswoman Angela Burford said. “This year we’re at 3.41m and we are only halfway through the season.”
The total number of houses destroyed currently sits at 829, but damage assessments of areas affected by the catastrophic conditions on Saturday are still underway. Burford said that number could increase by “up to 100”.
NSW is not alone in having to face never-ending bushfires. South Australia has more than 40,000 hectares of land burnt and 86 homes destroyed.
Catastrophic fire danger ratings have been issued in NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria.
Dr Richard Thornton, chief executive of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC), said the outlook for the rest of summer in Australia is above-normal fire potential for most of the east coast.
“This is coming on top of what we now have seen, which is a very early start to the fire season and a really severe start across large parts of NSW, Queensland and, more recently, over the weekend in WA,” he said.
Above-normal fire danger is expected for most of the east coast, eastern Tasmania, northern Victoria, Kangaroo Island and the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, parts of south-west Western Australia and a patch up north.
Time Person of the Year Great Thunberg has even had a spray at Australia.
Not even catastrophes like these seem to bring any political action. How is this possible?
Because we still fail to make the connection between the climate crisis and increased extreme weather events and nature disasters like the #AustraliaFires
That's what has to change.
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 22, 2019
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