Blaze kills firefighter in Australia

Katie Ramirez
January 12, 2020

With the sky outside a menacing red, Nerilie Abram's family is staying inside, with the windows shut and curtains drawn at their home in Canberra, Australia's smoke-choked capital.

"Whenever there are catastrophic wildfires other countries are willing to help", she said.

Australia urged almost a quarter of a million people to evacuate their homes on Friday and prepared military backup as authorities said the next few hours could be "very, very challenging" even as rain poured down in some parts. "Scientifically, it's not surprising".

Sitting under the town's watchtower, another resident Robyn Malcolm said: "If it all goes wrong, we'll dash down to the wharf and get on a tugboat".

"I can not underscore enough that in making this long journey you've brought hope and reassurance to these people", said Bogdan.

The unprecedented fire crisis in south-east Australia has claimed at least 26 lives and destroyed more than 2,000 homes since September and has focused many Australians on how the nation adapts to climate change.

A dead kangaroo, one of an estimated billion wild animals that have been killed so far by the fires.

"Much of Australia has experienced record heat", he said. In the well-populated southeast, almost a third of people are estimated to have been directly affected by this season's fire and smoke.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the Yearinan Station Rd fire and another in a remote region of the Blue Mountains were new.

On Friday, around 30,000 people attended a protest in Sydney to criticize how the Australian government, particularly Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has handled the crisis. "People are deeply affected", said Joe Fontaine, a lecturer in environmental science at Murdoch University in Perth, noting "a deep sense of loss and anxiety in society".

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This would include the operational response to the fires, a potential new role for the Commonwealth in deployment of the ADF, acknowledgment of climate change.

Australia has a wildfire "season" prompted by dry spells. And, this season, unusual cold in the eastern Indian Ocean has cut off moisture moving to Australia.

He said there was a new normal and Australia needed to adapt to it and build resilience. It has also made allegations that Prime Minister Scott Morrison's conservative government should take more action to combat climate change, according to experts who are aggravating the fire.

"That's because the bushfire situation is very risky ... the evidence is overwhelming that climate change is playing a prominent role in worsening bushfire conditions across Australia".

"We have a lot of damaged fences", he said. We didn't realize how bad it was going to be. "This is a outcome of the fact that the human species demands too much from the environment", he said about the forest fires.

Meanwhile, the Australian Council of Social Service welcomed the mental health spending but urged the government to boost disaster recovery payments and allowances and review the affordability of insurance.

"Although we do have enormous experience in identifying hazardous trees, sometimes these tree failures can't be predicted", Hardman said.

Officials in Australia say 25 people have been killed in the fires.

Cooler weather conditions have brought a temporary respite for numerous country's burning areas over the weekend, but a firefighter died on duty in Victoria, where new flames sparked.

Mr Albanese supported the idea of climate policy being included in the royal commission, but called on Mr Morrison to ensure the inquiry was not used to delay action.

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