Several killed, 100+ homes destroyed & koala habitat wiped out in Australia brush fires (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
The revived brush fires – which have burned intermittently across eastern Australia for months– picked up in intensity on Friday, destroying over 100 homes in New South Wales (NSW). Seven people remain unaccounted for amid the blaze and over 30 have been injured.
Over 70 fires continue to burn in NSW, with 17 of them declared at an emergency level, local fire officials say, as high winds and dry weather create near-ideal conditions for the blaze to rapidly spread.
Videos appeared on social media showing the conflagration as it swept through forests and residential areas in NSW.
Firefighters in Australia are battling a series of major blazes across New South Wales. At one point 17 fires were at emergency level, authorities said pic.twitter.com/Ym6CNEgOLH— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) November 8, 2019
Satellite images posted online also provided a bird’s eye view of the fire, depicting its progress as it marches east toward the coast.
🔴Ongoing major fires in New South Wales #Australia | #NSWfires#Bushfires 🔥10 hours of fire advancing eastward.📅2019/11/08 1:30:00 UTC to 11:30:00 UTC🔸Satellite: #Himawari8 🛰️🔸Product: #Fire Temperature 🔸Source: RAMMB/CIRA SliderSee also ⏬ https://t.co/zSZqE8f5DIpic.twitter.com/fzhFIn39Q7— Iban Ameztoy (@i_ameztoy) November 8, 2019
It's Saturday morning in Australia, where dozens of wildfires are burning out of control, destroying homes and causing at least 3 people to go missing. The situation is "unprecedented," according to fire officials in New South Wales. https://t.co/iMkkmRCXXBpic.twitter.com/ApjkQyEQaK— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) November 8, 2019
The conditions would only worsen on Saturday, NSF Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told ABC News.
“I'm expecting to see those alert levels change throughout the day, probably worsen, more likely than not, as the afternoon winds pick up and the fire behaviour spreads a little more,” the commissioner said.
Matt Hope was on a flight from Sydney to Brisbane and captured this image of the fires on the New South Wales Mid North Coast.Picture credit: @MattHope4.Keep up with the latest bushfire updates here: https://t.co/fh9PKGXeNA#QLDFires#NSWFires#9Newspic.twitter.com/B2oGwfLRPI— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) November 8, 2019
One of the casualties is the state’s vulnerable koala population, whose habitat has been largely wiped out in the fires.
“Where we thought we had koalas, we now think they have been incinerated,” Sue Ashton, president of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, told a local news outlet. “The fire is so intense, that's what's happening.”
"Where we thought we had koalas, we now think they have been incinerated. The fire is so intense, that's what's happening." Sue Ashton, the president of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. #9Newspic.twitter.com/v2WOGkXpgG— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) November 8, 2019
While Ashton said the figures were not updated after Friday’s renewed fires, she noted that around two-thirds of the koala’s habitat in the area had been destroyed previously, and predicted that as many as 350 koalas may have perished in total. The numbers are likely to increase after the most recent blaze.
Several fires were also reported raging in the state of Queensland, north of NSW, with at least one of them classified at the emergency level. Following an order from local fire authorities, thousands of residents fled their homes and spent the night in evacuation centers.
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