“Catastrophic” Fires Burning From Sydney To The Gold Coast
“The bush is torched! My brother held our house down because I was overseas and saved the joint.” – Asher Pacey
“People are losing homes. 130 Koalas on a reserve died. It’s horrific,” read a distressed text from a friend in Australia last night.
He’d consoled me when my family lost their home in the Northern California fires two years ago, and now the tables were turned.
“Fuck man, it’s so heavy here right now,” he added.
Affectionately referred to as “the sunburned country” by travel writer Bill Bryson, Australia has been considerably more charred over the last few days.
A deadly flurry of wildfires are being described as “catastrophic” as high temps, high winds, and dry conditions fuel the blazes from Sydney all the way to the Gold Coast. A state of emergency has been declared for the entire state of New South Wales…the entire state!
Currently, there are 17 large first burning fires with another 50-plus smaller blazes flaring up. Three deaths have been reported as a result of the fire and hundreds of buildings have been destroyed. Evacuation orders are in place. Hundreds of schools in New South Wales and Queensland are expected to be closed due to the fire danger and unhealthy, smokey air. Over 100,000 houses are believed to be threatened in the suburbs of Sydney alone. Photos from space show the smoke already drifting over New Zealand.
The list of affected surfers grows by the day. Noa Deane has reportedly evacuated his home, Asher Pacey’s brother singlehandedly saved their property while Asher was overseas, and competitors in the upcoming (Nov 15-17) Port Stephens QS 6,000 have been advised not to postpone traveling to Port Stephens by WSL Commissioner Jesse Miley Dyer.
And about the koalas, sadly it is now believed that over 350 koalas in the Lake Innes Nature Reserve perished in the flames.
Unfortunately, the worst may be yet to come as wind patterns are forecast to shift with wind speeds potentially pushing 50mph. Already the fires are being compared to similar bush fires that broke out in Victoria in February 2009, in which 173 people were killed an over 2,000 homes lost.
“We have decided to leave today and try to beat the winds and fire,” explained my friend, who ironically was recently considering joining the fire service. “I looked and most of the highway is already burnt so I think/assume the areas we are driving are already burnt to a crisp.”
Like in California, in Australia some view the fires as an alarming sign of climate change. On November 10, not one weather station in Australia recorded a single drop of rain. Consider that for a second, not one drop of rain across nearly three million square miles. Current weather models don’t hold much hope for any more precipitation over the next week to 10 days.
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